KAMPALA —Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda has said the country is on high alert as locusts draw close to the common border with Kenya.
All nine ministries have been instructed to work together to collectively heighten the country’s preparedness to prevent or handle the invasion, said Rugunda in a statement issued here.
The locusts have reached Kenya’s Samburu and Turkana areas, which are close to Uganda’s northeastern border, he said, citing relevant reports.
“This is an emergency, and all efforts and agencies must be on alert to play their role in a timely manner,” Rugunda said.
He noted that the agriculture ministry has been instructed to submit a budget to the finance ministry to make clear the resources required to prevent the invasion.
The Food and Agricultural Organization also described the locust swarm invasion to East Africa as the worst situation in 25 years.
The Food and Security and Nutrition Working Group, a regional platform, currently co-chaired by FAO and the IGAD Climate Prediction & Applications Centre (ICPAC) urged countries to take immediate action to control the outbreak, warning that there is a risk that some swarms could appear in northeast Uganda, southeast South Sudan and southwest Ethiopia.
The agriculture ministry earlier indicated that it needed a contingency fund of 1.35 million U.S. dollars to be used for aircraft fuel, pesticides and other supplies.
Rugunda said the government is in touch with Kenya to seek joint efforts to contain the locusts.
The prime minister urged the public to stock up food reserves as a precaution.
Experts have warned that an invasion of locusts would wreak havoc by destroying crops and vegetation and cause famine.
Uganda last experienced a major locust invasion 70 years ago, with immense damage on crops, according to the agriculture ministry.