A desert locust infestation- the worst in 25 years- is spreading through Northern Kenya after wreaking havoc in Somalia and Ethiopia, posing a significant threat to Kenya’s food security.

Kenyan Agriculture Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri told a press conference that the swarms had crossed the border from Somalia on December 28, and had now spread to northern Mandera and Marsabit, eastern Wajir and Garissa, as well as central Isiolo and Samburu.

“We recognise that the pest invasion and potential to spread rapidly to other counties pose (an) unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods in the country,” said Kiunjuri.

Locusts can cover as much as 150km (93 miles) a day and an average swarm will destroy crops sufficient to feed 2,500 people for a year, according to the Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The government has since obtained pesticides and 2 aircraft for aerial spraying that have been deployed to Northern Eastern Kenya, in particular: Isiolo and Wajir counties. State Spokesman Cyrus Oguna ruled out any effect of the pesticides on public health.

It remains to be seen whether these efforts by the government will halt the spread of the locust invasion.

The potential of the pesticides’ adverse ecological impact that includes the destruction of beneficial insects & organisms remains unknown.