Marsabit-Kenya: Seen as the worlds’ worst migratory pests, desert locust swarms descended in Marsabit, decimating crops and devouring grazing land, subsequently affecting the source of livelihoods in a community that depends on livestock for survival.

Paulina, 52 years old and mother of six from Yomoo in Loiyangalani, knows too well the compounding effects of the desert locusts.

“When the locusts came, they were flying all over, they landed on the grazing fields, feeding on the grass” says Paulina, adding that the locust infestation left nothing for her goats to feed on. The locust invaded her village earlier this year, around February 2020, just when they were recovering from the effects of floods that hit the region in the months of October and November of 2019.

As the pastoralist communities in the region are recovering from the multiple threats, including the COVID-19 pandemic as well as recurrent climate-related shocks such as dry spells and floods, affected households such as Pauline and her family are receiving emergency cash assistance to support them in purchasing essential food and non-food items and compensate for their losses.

Through the European Union-funded Kenya Cash Consortium program, the worst affected households are receiving KSH 4,711 a month to bolster the recovery efforts from the desert locust upsurge Kenya has been facing.

According to Paulina, who is a beneficiary of the cash transfer program, the money was disbursed at the right time – just when she needed a helping hand. “I used part of the cash to buy food items for my family. My six children can now afford a decent meal” she says. “I have also started selling fish because if I depend on livestock only, disasters like the desert locust infestation might affect our income ” added Paulina.

Her husband is a herdsman and livestock trader. However, the livestock markets in Kenya were closed earlier in the year as the government put in place measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. Due to the disrupted markets and declining pasture as a result of the desert locusts devouring vegetation, her husband started fishing in Loiyangalani’s Lake Turkana.

Through the cash support, Paulina has now teamed up with her husband to start a fishing business as a means to diversify their source of income and she looks forward to growing her business and buying more livestock.

Paulina’s progressive recovery is a testament to the success of Kenya Cash Consortium’s objective of supporting households affected by the multiple threats the country has been facing, including desert locust, floods and COVID-19 pandemic.

Funded by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), the Kenya Cash Consortium is led by ACTED in partnership with Concern Worldwide, Oxfam and members of the ASAL Humanitarian Network, including Pastoralist Community Initiative and Development Assistance (PACIDA).