NAIROBI, Kenya, May 22 – The World Bank is set to lend Kenya more money, and this time, it is for fighting desert locusts that have invaded several counties and threatened food security to about three million people.
On Thursday, the Washington-based financial institution said its board had approved a US$43 million – Sh4.59 billion – loan for Kenya as part of a larger regional Emergency Locust Response Project.
World Bank said it was extending the credit to respond to the threat posed by the locust outbreak and to strengthen Kenya’s system for preparedness.
UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has termed the invasion in Kenya as the worst of its kind in 70 years, saying it has affected the already vulnerable northern region of the country.
The locust swarms, which crossed into Kenya from Ethiopia and Somalia on December 28, 2019, have since spread to twenty-eight counties.
“Without immediate intervention, the locust attack could lead to a deterioration in food security towards the end of 2020 and possible rise in food prices,” said World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Felipe Jaramillo.
“We are working with other development partners to provide, restore and enhance the livelihoods of affected farmers, pastoralists and vulnerable households that have been affected by the locust attack and are food insecure.”
According to the World Bank, the Kenya component of the Emergency Locust Response Project will provide immediate surveillance and locust management measures to halt the spread of the pests.
It will protect and restore livelihoods by shielding the poor and vulnerable in locust affected areas from human capital and asset loss.
The project will prioritize coordination and early warning preparedness interventions by establishing and strengthening a Locust Control Unit (LCU) within the Plant Protection Services Division (PPSD) of the Ministry of Agriculture at the national level to prevent future outbreaks from spiraling out of control.
“This project will further strengthen the Ministry of Agriculture’s ongoing efforts in managing the locust attack. It will also enable technical support and assistance to the Ministry in enhancing their early warning and preparedness systems and to the counties in restoring livelihoods of the affected pastoralists and farmers,” said World Bank Task Team Leader for Kenya, Vinay Kumar Vutukuru.
The funding comes 2 days after the institution approved a Sh106.8 billion loan to close Kenya’s fiscal financing gap generated by the severe, ongoing shock to Kenya’s economy.
Kenya’s budget deficit has been on a widening streak but got worse due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The government’s move of cushioning its citizens against the shocks of the pandemic has further widened the deficit ratio.
Since the first case was announced more than two months ago, the Kenyatta administration has implemented a raft of measures, that include reducing tax collection, slashing Value Added Tax as well as cutting income tax to protect Kenyans.