Fighting against locust invasion in East Africa – still on!

Agency chief Qu Dongyu stressed that more action is still needed to avert a food security crisis as the ongoing rainy season, which benefits farmers and pastoralists, also provides favourable conditions for locusts to breed.

“Our gains have been significant; but the battle is long and is not yet over”, he said. “More people are at risk of losing their livelihoods and worsening food security in the coming months.”

Protecting crops and livelihoods

FAO has released its first progress report on the locust control campaign which began in January and now covers 10 countries: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Yemen.

It was launched to protect crops and livelihoods from what are considered the most destructive migratory pests in the world. A single Desert Locust swarm, which can contain up to 150 million insects per square kilometre, is capable of eating as much food in a day, as 35,000 people.

Through FAO’s support, more than 365,000 hectares have been controlled, and an additional 350,000 pastoral households have been spared from distress.

While swathes of treated land are now relatively locust-free, the agency warned that a second wave of locusts will transition to the young adult phase in June, at a critical time when many farmers prepare to harvest their crops.
Second locust wave and food insecurity looming

FAO said the upsurge is “particularly alarming” in the broader context.

Forecasts made prior to the COVID-19 crisis indicate that more than 25 million people in the East Africa region will face acute food insecurity in the latter half of the year. An additional 17 million people in Yemen are already affected.

“We can and must protect vulnerable people from the impact of multiple crises: conflicts, climate extremes, desert locusts and COVID-19, which threaten to cause a further dramatic deterioration in their food security,” said Mr. Qu, the FAO Director General.

“To do this, we need to intensify our efforts further and focus not just on controls but on supporting the livelihoods of farmers and pastoralists so they can get through this.”

Intensifying efforts

An FAO appeal launched in January has netted $130 million. While funding has been largely concentrated on locust control activities, more support for livelihoods is needed.

Governments have been working with the UN agency to design, monitor and implement control operations. FAO has also been providing pesticides, bio-pesticides, equipment, aircraft and training.

Given the favourable conditions for locust reproduction, the agency has called for sustained efforts, and a revised appeal will be launched in the coming weeks.

The appeal will request additional resources for Iran and Pakistan, which are also facing locust infestations, and for scaling up efforts in the Sahel region, which risks being affected.

President Museveni Extends Covid-19 Lockdown in Uganda

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has extended the country’s lockdown over the coronavirus by 21 days.

This lockdown period will now continue from today, April 15, to May 5.

President Museveni made the announcement on Tuesday while addressing the nation on the status of the coronavirus pandemic in Uganda.

“The government has decided to keep the stay-home decision for another 21 days starting tomorrow. This is meant to allow us to study the situation longer. All previous measures still stand,” he said.

He noted that although only 54 out of the total 5,664 samples tested returned positive results for the Covid-19 disease, it is too early to rule that Uganda is free from the deadly virus.

Students from the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya got to experience Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery in London

Source: CNN

Students from the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya got to experience Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery in London thanks to VR sets.

 

New Swarms of Locusts Threaten Crops, Food Security in Ethiopia

Source: VOA NEWS

By Sora Halake

A new round of locust swarms has hit Ethiopia and is again threatening crops and food security, say agricultural officials.

Dereje Hirpha, the Oromia region’s head of locust control, tells VOA’s Horn of Africa Service that the new generation of locusts was first reported weeks ago in the Raya district and has since spread across thousands of hectares in 40 districts of the region.

The fast-moving swarm is threatening crops in a country where more than 80 percent of the population depends on agriculture for its livelihood.

An Ethiopian boy attempts to fend off desert locusts as they fly in a farm on the outskirt of Jijiga in Somali region, Ethiopia January 12, 2020. Picture taken January 12, 2020. REUTERS/Giulia Paravicini

A similar locust wave hit Ethiopia a year ago.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has said it believes heavy rainfall in East Africa has contributed to the growth of locust swarms in the area.

This new generation is arriving from Somaliland, while breeding has continued on both sides of the Red Sea, and in Sudan and Eritrea, according to experts.

USAID plans to work with the U.N. Food  and Agriculture Organization to prevent and control the spread of locusts, its office of communication says.  The agency is training more than 300 pest experts and providing 5,000 sets of protective equipment for locust fighters.

Hirpha says authorities are spraying the affected areas from planes and vehicles on the ground to ward off the pests.

Locals, meanwhile, are engaged in their own combat operation.  When a locust swarm approaches, residents try to scare them away by blowing whistles, drumming empty buckets, setting fires, and shooting into the air.

Locust chasers take position in green areas to disperse the swarms before the descend.

“From a distance the swarm looks like a brown cloud, a sandstorm,” says Sora Kura, one of the chasers in the Borana zone.

The swarm follows the wind direction and is also guided by hairy antenna on their heads that detect smells and other signals of food, Hirpha says. According to the FAO, the swarms can move up to 150 kilometers per day.

USAID says the swarms will likely spread next to southwest Ethiopia and northwestern Kenya, and may enter Uganda and South Sudan.

Desert locust can comfortably live in a warm, sandy environment like Eastern Ethiopia and Somaliland, Hirpha says.

Ethiopia has to report any assessment of the crops lost to the pests.  In 2003 and 2005, locust outbreaks in more than 20 countries, mainly in North Africa, cost farmers $3.6 billion, according to the FAO.

Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge becomes the first person to run a marathon in less than 2 hours

(CNN)
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge has successfully completed the first ever marathon under two hours in the Austrian capital of Vienna, two years since he fell 25 seconds short.
The 34-year-old ran the 26.2 miles in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds at Vienna’s Prater-Hauptallee (main avenue) — an achievement considered one of the ultimate milestones in athletic performance.
“I am the happiest man,” Kipchoge said after the unofficial two-hour marathon, adding that he hopes to have inspired many that “no human is limited.”
Kipchoge was on target to break the record during the first half of Vienna’s Prater Park on Saturday, after completing 21 kilometers in 59.35 minutes.
Kipchoge’s first crack of going sub-two hour in Monza, Italy, was part of Nike’s Breaking2 project. This time he was being backed by petrochemical company Ineos in an attempt called the 1:59 Challenge.
Despite the achievement, the milestone won’t count as a world record. In fact, Ineos hasn’t even submitted a request to the IAAF for the attempt to be officially ratified.
During the race, Kipchoge followed behind a car — a condition not allowed under IAAF sanctions — and was assisted by an army of 30 pacemakers.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta congratulated Kipchoge in a tweet after the marathon: “You’ve done it, you’ve made history and made Kenya proud while at it.
“Your win today, will inspire tens of future generations to dream big and to aspire for greatness,” Kenyatta added.
Speaking before the marathon, Kipchoge said he was aware that there were critics of the manufactured conditions surrounding the attempt.
“The law of nature cannot allow all human beings to think together,” the reigning Olympic marathon champion said. “In breaking the two-hour barrier, I want to open minds to think that no human is limited. All our minds, all our thoughts are parallel. But I respect everybody’s thoughts.”
He added that the 1:59 Challenge is different to competing in a race like the Berlin Marathon, where he set the current world record in 2018.
“Berlin is running and breaking a world record,” said Kipchoge. “Vienna is running and making history — like the first man to go to the moon.”

Police cleared in fake money probe: Kenya

Police in Busia County have absolved their colleagues of any wrongdoing following their short detention for allegedly having fake currency.

Joseph Kahindi Katsungu, Alex Rasto Kiplimo and Ayub Waitiki Ng’ang’a are based at Busia Central Police Station.

They were apprehended on Tuesday afternoon as they were about to cross the border into Uganda, dressed in civilian attire.

Police on patrol, who had been tipped off, trailed their black Toyota car and stopped them before they crossed over.

Upon inspection of the vehicle, two firearms and $410,000 and Sh2,500 in fake currency were found.

In addition, Mr Ng’ang’a was found with a CZE_07 pistol serial number C246921 without a magazine and Sh 2,300 while Mr Kiplimo was found with a CZE_07 pistol serial number C195090 with 15 rounds of ammunition, and Sh 4,600.

The police officers resisted arrest and engaged in an altercation with their colleagues, attracting members of the public who scrambled for the fake currency.

After the dust settled, they headed to Busia Police Station for identification.

On Wednesday, County Police Commander John Nyoike told the media that it had been established that the officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations had been on a mission to bust a fake money syndicate that had duped many in the Western region.

“We have established that they were following links to find people involved in money laundering within Busia. The fake currency was to be used to nab those engaging in money laundering at the border,” said Mr Nyoike.

He explained that the commotion that ensued resulted from the trio’s failure to identify themselves.

“The officers who were on patrol were not aware of their presence in Busia. They had no other option but to obey the order to avail themselves at the station for identification and tell us their mission in Busia.”

Pressed to explain why the officers failed to send a signal to their colleagues in Busia as is the norm, considering that they were working outside their station, Mr Nyoike said, “Signals are sent by officers whenever they are on a mission in an area beyond their jurisdiction.

“But sometimes we allow them to report while already on the ground to avoid cases of information leakage that may undermine an operation.”

UHC, Dongo Kundu SEZ top agenda as President Kenyatta meets Japan PM Abe

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, YOKOHAMA, Japan

During the bilateral meeting, Prime Minister Abe said Japan will continue supporting Kenya’s ambition to achieve UHC through Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements.

Prime Minister Abe had earlier, during the opening session of TICAD 7, announced his government’s pledge to support UHC programmes in Africa that will benefit over 3 million people.

On the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Dongo Kundu, the two leaders agreed that with the support of the Japanese government, Kenya will fast track the commencement of the SEZ as well as the construction of the Likoni Gate bridge.

Other matters that featured prominently during the talks included regional peace and security, sustainable blue economy and the need to address the trade imbalance between the two countries that is currently in favour of Japan.

President Kenyatta thanked Prime Minister Abe for hosting TICAD 6 in Kenya in 2016 saying the conference helped raise the country’s profile as an investment destination of choice on the African continent.

The President noted that in the last 3 years, the number of Japanese companies setting shop in Kenya significantly rose from 41 to 57, a feat he termed as a success indicator of the growing bilateral ties between Tokyo and Nairobi.

The leaders also discussed ongoing United Nations reforms with President Kenyatta asking his host for Japan’s support for Kenya’s bid to win a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

President Kenyatta concluded by inviting PM Abe to attend the 25thInternational Conference on Population and Development (ICPD 25) that will be held in Nairobi between 12thand 14th November this year.

In another side meeting, President Kenyatta and the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres discussed regional peace and security in the Eastern Africa region.

At the meeting, the President invited Mr Guterres to the UN Oceans Conference that Kenya will co-host with Portugal in Lisbon between 2ndand 6thJune next year.

Earlier, President Kenyatta separately held talks with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth of Mauritius.

PM Jugnauth assured President Kenyatta of his country’s support for Kenya’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council when elections are held in June 2020.

The two leaders further agreed to conclude discussions on the “Avoidance of Double Tax Agreement” between the two countries by mid September and sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Standards by end of September 2019.

Government not considering extending deadline of ongoing national census

There will be no extension of the ongoing national census and the exercise will strictly end on Saturday, August 31, government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna has said.

As such, the government has initiated hotline toll free number, 0800 221 020, to enable those who would not have been counted to contact their office for assistance before the deadline.

Government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna has ruled out extending deadline of ongoing national census.

“For those who have not been counted, you have up to Saturday, August 31, to ensure you are enumerated, you can call the free toll number for assistance,”said the government spokesperson.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Director General Zachary Mwangi said the enumerator will be dropping cards containing the toll free number at the door of those who would not be found in their houses during the exercise.

He urged such citizens to use the number to contact the enumerators or call the head office for assistance.

Census began on the nights of Saturday, August 24, and Sunday, August 25.

The counting has since been going on during daytime and is expected to end on Saturday.

The government is expected to release provisional results of the exercise in three months time from the date of finalising the count.

UN Youth envoy launches coding competition to help solve climate crisis and ‘Reboot the Earth’

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Jayathma Wickramanayake’s office describes the competition as a “global hackathon”, where teams of computer programmers, scientists and others, will try to solve a local climate crisis, that may be unique to each location in line with specific community needs, by creating new software, or improving upon existing programs.

The hackathon will take place at United Nations Technology Innovation Labs in five different countries (Malaysia, Finland, India, Egypt and Germany), during August. Through a series of Tech Challenges, one team from each country will be selected to travel to New York City to attend a “Reboot The Earth” awards ceremony, during the UN Climate Summit on September 21.

The winner from each country will get the chance to have their solution showcased at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, in January 2020, and the overall winner has the opportunity of seeing their software proposal developed at one of the UN Technology Innovation Labs.

You can find more details of the competition, and how to enter, here.

In an interview with UN News, Ms. Wickramanayake said that young people are key to solving global climate challenges, and drivers of change and innovation: “With the global climate movement led by young people, the United Nations supports youth’s effort in driving climate action”, said the Sri Lankan-born envoy.

Since the launch of the Youth 2030 Strategy, the United Nations has been scaling up global, regional and national actions to meet young people’s needs, realize their rights and tap their possibilities as agents of change.

As the Youth Envoy explains, Reboot The Earth is about creating a platform for young people to share their best innovative ideas and solutions with the United Nations, making them equal partners in the global fight against the climate crisis:

“Reboot The Earth presents young people with the opportunity to not only showcase their potential and ideas, but also to be recognized at the United Nations Climate Summit in September 2019”

“We’re calling the winners of this year’s hackathon ‘The #ClimateReboot Troops’, and they will have be able to collaborate with the United Nations on a long-term project, to work on, and scale up, solutions that will have a real-life impact in communities.”