Kenya fights desert locust outbreak with app

Late last year, due to the unusually wet weather in East Africa, a huge number of Desert Locusts appeared. A swarm of insects can travel up to 150 km per day, and in Kenya it was calculated that the peak of danger for their territory would be in mid-July. Pest controllers have days for locust infants to grow up to apply pesticides, but their resources are extremely limited.

The main problem in locust control is not to waste time. Kenyans do not have the opportunity to flood all the fields with poison, exterminators operate in small groups, treating the largest clusters of insects. If they miss one of them and the locusts grow up, take their wings and form a swarm, the fight can be considered lost. But how to determine exactly where to send people with chemicals?

Christopher Achilo is a scout in a new service under the Turkana District government, whose job it is to find locust swarms. There are so many insects that you cannot see the trees and bushes on which they sit behind them. It is unrealistic to determine the number and danger of such a congestion by eye, so he uses the E-Locust smartphone app. With his help, Christopher takes pictures of each cluster and sends the data to the processing center in Lodwar, the administrative center of Turkana.

It is there, in the center, that specialists study data from scouts and draw up a schedule for processing the detected clusters. In June, they have already cultivated 30, 830 hectares of land, of which 8, 500 hectares from the air. If this is not done, the locust will begin to eat everything in its path, collecting from each square. km per day of food is more than enough for 35, 000 people.