Connect with us

Business

Locusts Stealing Lives: Fears of farmers, herders in Somaliland as a plague looms : The Standard

Published

on

Loading...

Muse Aarinte watched helplessly as a swarm of locusts swept into his village, devouring all the crops, bushes and even the leaves on the trees. Now he fears a plague is coming. Geerisa village, a remote, mud-and-thatch settlement in an arid, breakaway region of Somalia, survived the first outbreak of locusts in January. But Aarinte doesn’t think Geerisa’s 1,900 families will be so lucky when the second wave comes.

Since December, billions of desert locusts have swarmed eastern Africa, ravaging crops, decimating pasture and threatening the livelihoods of more than 20 million people who depend on farming and livestock for their survival.
“The swarm covered the land and sky as far as the eye could see,” said Aarinte, 93, chief of the village of animal herders, 350 km (220 miles) northwest of Hargeisa, capital of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland.
“They ate everything … there was no vegetation left. Soon they will return in bigger numbers. It is a curse sent to take land, livestock and people.”

SEE ALSO :Leaders warn of crisis as locusts raid region

The outbreak, which is the worst in a generation, has seen hungry swarms – some the size of cities – sweeping across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, feasting their way through hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops and grazing land.
The United Nations has called the infestation – which has also affected Uganda, Djibouti, South Sudan, Eritrea and Tanzania, Sudan – “a scourge of biblical proportions”.
But so far limited resources have hampered efforts to fight the locusts, particularly in impoverished Somaliland – and the worst is yet to come.


Bishop who fought for Kenyans  

A second generation of the insects – about 20 times larger – has spawned in countless pockets across the Horn of Africa. Within weeks, they will reach adulthood and take flight.
“The timing could not be worse. The second wave coincides with the planting season and the rains which are due in April,” said Daniel Molla, food security and nutrition advisor for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

SEE ALSO :We must make bold choices this year to secure our future

“The swarms will wipe clean the vegetation just as it is sprouting. Farmers will have nothing to harvest and pastoralist communities will find little for their animals to eat.”
Molla warned that if the swarms are not destroyed in coming weeks, the population of the insects could increase 400-fold by June, turning the infestation into a full-fledged regional plague, which would be more difficult and expensive to contain.
BANGING POTS, BURNING RUBBISH
Locust swarms are not new to Somaliland, a poor, drought-prone region of 4.5 million people, nestled along Africa’s northeast coast with the Gulf of Aden.
But climate scientists have warned that erratic weather linked to global warming has created ideal conditions for the insects to surge in numbers not seen in a quarter of a century.

SEE ALSO :County official dismisses senator’s claims of graft in Wajir

Warmer seas have led to more cyclones in the Indian Ocean, causing heavy rainfall along the Arabian peninsula and the Horn of Africa, producing the perfect environment for breeding.
Since crossing the Gulf of Aden into eastern Africa in December, the swarms – which can travel up to 150 km (93 miles) in a day – have devoured fields filled with crops such as maize, millet and sorghum, and stripped bare grazing land.
A swarm of a square kilometre contains 40-80 million locusts and can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people.
One horde sighted in northern Kenya this year was reportedly 2,400 square km – more than twice the size of Paris or New York, according to the FAO.
The pests have severely hit communities across the climate-vulnerable region who were already reeling from three consecutive years of droughts and floods.

SEE ALSO :Locust invasion: State ditches guns for aerial sprays

Loading...

“The swarm that came here was so big it blocked out the sun,” said Abdi Shakur Muhammed, chief of Botor village, a dusty hamlet of a few traditional huts made of branches and animal hides, 65 km northwest of Hargeisa.
“We tried waving the locusts off the crops. Some people banged on pots, others burned rubbish hoping the smoke would drive them away. Some people prayed. But there were so many of them, it was impossible.”
By the time the swarm took off the next day, Botor’s 600 families had lost 60% of their harvest of maize, millet, beans and vegetables, he said.
“Only Allah will have the power to save us if it happens again,” he added.
Muhammed is right to be worried.
A few hours drive away, across the rugged, desert plains dotted with nomads herding camels, sheep and goats, a second generation of locusts has spawned in Awdal region, near Somaliland’s coast.
Thousands of the pink-tinged insects – not full adults yet – hop and flutter in a patch of scrub, learning how to fly.
“The first wave of locusts laid their eggs here. You can see how the offspring is now maturing. By April, they will have flown,” said Mohamed Mohamoud, director of Somaliland’s plant protection department, as the insects flittered around him.
“Based on predictions of the wind, they are expected to then move into Ethiopia and Kenya, causing further devastation there. We need to contain them now, while they are still on the ground.”
RACE AGAINST TIME
But Somaliland has limited capacity.
Although it has operated independently of Somalia since 1991 – with its own president, parliament, currency and international airport – it is not globally recognised as a country.
And despite being relatively safer than Somalia, where civil war and Islamic militancy have raged for almost three decades, Somaliland is often perceived as equally insecure.
A lack of foreign trade and investment, coupled with ineligibility for loans from the World Bank or International Monetary Fund, has meant much of Somaliland remains impoverished and under-developed.
One in three Somalilanders live on less than $1.90 a day, the World Bank’s measure of extreme poverty.
With livestock exports making up 40% of gross domestic product and around half the population dependent on animals for their livelihoods, Somaliland’s Agriculture Minister Ahmed Mumin Seed is worried about the locust infestation.
“As a government, we are compelled to take action against the locust infestation and we have mobilised some funds and manpower, but we have limited resources,” said Seed.
“We still have time to contain them before the end of March/early April. Once they fly off and leave Somaliland and go to the neighbouring countries, it will be beyond our ability to control them.”
The FAO has appealed to international donors for more than $150 million to help the eight east African nations control the outbreak. So far it has raised $110 million.
Even so Somaliland is struggling to respond.
Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda have deployed a handful of planes to kill off swarms through the aerial spraying of pesticides.
But fears of insecurity in Somalia – and Somaliland – have made it hard to find firms willing to contract out aircraft.
Response has, therefore, been limited to ground control operations, with pick-up trucks mounted with sprayers moving through locust-breeding sites, diffusing biopesticides.
But with 80,000 hectares of land to cover and only two vehicles, each with a capacity to spray around 100 hectares in a day, efforts are moving at a snail’s pace as April draws closer.
FAO officials plan to increase the number of vehicles to eight in the coming days, adding that authorities will spray as many locust sites as they can before the insects take off.
One company has agreed to provide an aircraft for aerial spraying, but that it is expected in mid-April, they add.
Geerisa’s Aarinte isn’t optimistic.
“I’ve endured many things in my life. In the 2018 drought, my 1,500 sheep, 20 donkeys and 50 camels starved to death,” he said. “If the locusts come, let them come. We will die together with our animals.” 


Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Standard Digital Telegram channel HERE.

LocustSomalia

Comments

comments

Loading...
Continue Reading

Business

Ex-CIC boss Gitogo paid Sh154m on early exit

Published

on

Loading...
Companies

Ex-CIC boss Gitogo paid Sh154m on early exit

Tom Gitogo
Mr Tom Gitogo when he was CIC Insurance boss. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Former CIC Insurance Group #ticker:CIC chief executive Tom Gitogo was paid Sh154.4 million when he cut short his employment contract on October 9, 2019, the insurer has disclosed in its annual report.

The payout included Sh76.3 million in gratuity which was calculated at 31 percent of the annual basic pay for each year worked.

For the nine months he had served by the time of his departure, he was paid a salary of Sh55.3 million annually or Sh6.1 million per month and allowances running into Sh22.8 million annually.

In the previous full year (to December 2018), the two pay items had earned him a total of Sh74.8 million.

Mr Gitogo’s five-year contract was to end in February this year but he left before the end of his term for unexplained reasons.

advertisement


The company appointed Elijah Wachira to replace him in an acting capacity.

Loading...

Mr Gitogo joined CIC in 2014 when he replaced Nelson Kuria who retired after holding the chief executive position for many years.

He left days after the company repaid its Sh5 billion corporate bond on October 2, 2019.

Mr Gitogo had also initiated plans to sell the insurer’s 712 acres of freehold land. His term at CIC was turbulent, characterised by business decline across various performance measures.

The insurer’s market capitalisation, for instance, dropped 68 percent from Sh25.1 billion in December 2014 to Sh8 billion by the time he exited.

Mr Gitogo steadily bought the company’s shares and still held 11 million shares by December 2019 when he was ranked ninth among the top 10 shareholders, according to the annual report.

The shares are currently worth Sh26 million, assuming he has not sold his stake.

Over his tenure, CIC’s earnings and shareholder funds also dropped, partly due to losses at its regional subsidiaries, competition and the weak stock market. After his exit, the insurer reported a Sh321.5 million net profit for the year ended December, representing a 33.1 percent decline from Sh480.9 million the year before.

Comments

comments

Loading...
Continue Reading

Business

Clean cooking tied to cost and mindset

Published

on

Loading...
Society

Clean cooking tied to cost and mindset

cooking gas
Many households in East Africa cannot access clean cooking fuels, largely because of cash constraints and outdated customary behaviour. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A huge portion of East Africa’s population cannot access clean cooking fuels, largely because of cash constraints and outdated customary behaviour.

While some households believe they lack the purchasing power to acquire cleaner technologies, mainly done through upfront payment, some communities have clung onto the belief that only traditional energy sources prepare meals well.

What most of them are not aware of is that topping up cook stoves daily with kerosene or charcoal cumulatively costs a lot more than using cooking gas, for instance. Besides, cleaner technologies have a higher calorific value, meaning more heat is generated to cook meals faster and suffer lower energy loss compared to traditional options.

Access to cleaner options is a question of affordability and mindset.

Therefore, to address the heavy reliance on dirty cooking fuels in the region, a blended approach should be pursued. Governments should roll out fiscal incentives aimed at dialing down prices of cleaner alternatives and enabling more households to afford them.

advertisement


At the same time, private investors should tap into this vast market by offering cleaner solutions with flexible repayment plans with which low-income customers are comfortable. Awareness campaigns to educate rural populations on the advantages of cleaner fuels and trigger mindset shifts are also needed to guide this transition.

Indoor air pollution amid poor ventilation is a silent death-trap inside the walls of poor households. Chronic exposure to smoke while cooking often leads to respiratory complications, exerting pressure on healthcare facilities, yet this can be avoided.

Based on World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, “clean” fuels and technologies in the context of indoor air quality and household fuel combustion include electric cookers, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), natural gas, biogas, solar, and ethanol-fuel stoves. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the so-called dirty fuels since they emit smoke and mostly relied upon by households in villages, peri-urban and informal settlements. The list includes charcoal, coal, crop waste, dry dung, kerosene and wood.

Loading...

In Kenya, clean cooking fuel access rate stands at a paltry 10 percent, yet this is the best performance in the region, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Uganda fares worse off, with only one percent of the population having access to clean options while Tanzania’s access rate is three percent and five percent for Ethiopia.

In most of these countries, population has been growing at a fast clip, outpacing growth in the number of households gaining access to clean cooking. This has somehow slowed down the fight against energy poverty not only in East Africa but the entire Sub-Saharan Africa.

It is, therefore, encouraging to learn that the Kenyan government is reviving plans to distribute 6kg cooking gas cylinders and burners to low-income families in villages at subsidised rates.

The Mwananchi Gas Project, though hit by delays since 2018, is a commendable move meant to wean poor households from use of dirty wood fuel and paraffin by making gas equipment affordable to first-time buyers. There should be no more delays in its implementation this time around.

The International Energy Agency has grouped Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nigeria and DRC in the bottom 20 list of countries with lowest access to clean fuels globally. The agency indicates that 44 million Kenyans still use dirty fuels in one way or another, with this number being much higher in Tanzania (54 million) and 98 million for Ethiopia.

This grim picture calls for strategic and speedy interventions, involving public-private partnerships to turn around the fortunes, alongside support from development partners.

Already, Kenya has a funding arrangement with the World Bank to supply efficient cooking appliances powered by clean fuels to households located in marginalised areas, largely in northern Kenya and the coast.

The mass cook stove distribution drive is part of a wider programme that aims to roll out clean energy solutions to underdeveloped communities under the Kenya off-grid solar access project (K-OSAP). The project aims to support a transition from low efficiency baseline stoves to cleaner improved cooking appliances and fuels.

This is certainly a welcome approach and rollout should be done in a transparent and efficient manner.

On its part, Ethiopia is running a National Biogas Programme aimed at providing hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians with biogas digesters.

Such nationwide policies are expected to bend the curve and shrink the number of people without access, providing clean cooking solutions to around half of the region’s population by 2030. To this end, as countries commit to universal electricity access targets for their populations, the same should be the case with clean cooking fuels.

Comments

comments

Loading...
Continue Reading

Business

Star power: Why celeb marketing sells

Published

on

Loading...
Society

Star power: Why celeb marketing sells

human nature
Marketing often captures the very essence of human nature. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Watch an hour of news on your favourite television station. From CNN to Al Jazeera to NTV, you will see intermixed between news coverage various commercial advertisements trying to get you to purchase or build your awareness about their brands about everything from cooking fat to body lotion to types of drinks.

Invariably, positioned between logos, messaging and product details, often a famous face pops into the advertisement to promote the product. On television, radio, social and print media, we see or hear our well-known comedians, news presenters, singers as well as sports men and women.

But why do businesses use famous faces and voices to push their products and services? Surely the average consumer of media understands the nature of paid endorsements.

Celebrities often know little to nothing about what they are paid to advocate. Despite our conscious understanding of paid spokespeople, advertisers continue to put famous people before us.

Why? Because it works. Research by Michela Cortini, Antonella Vicenti, and Riccardo Zuffo demonstrates immense power that celebrity endorsements work. But why does logic- defying celebrity marketing work?

advertisement


Marketing often captures the very essence of human nature. We like to think of ourselves as logical, rational and ethical beings. Our pro-self-bias makes us believe that we make excellent decisions about our plans, purchases, and peers.

But marketers selling a drink or sauce in a long, tall, and thin container sell more than those selling the same drink or sauce in a short and thicker container that holds the same millilitres. Surely humans as rational beings would notice that both containers hold the same quantity. But, no. We make most decisions with our subconscious emotional primordial urges.

Loading...

Likewise, even the most holy and ethical man who loves his wife with all his heart will still buy a product with a desirable waist-to-hip ratio attractive woman on the product packaging and not realise his reason for choosing that purchase.

Stephen Colarelli and Joseph Dettmann’s seminal research highlights that our human choices in marketing behaviour accentuate primary processes in biological and social evolution critical in survival, natural selection and sexual selection.

Inasmuch, we still retain our ancient preferences for sweet, fatty, or salty food and advertisements that showcase these urges succeed in food sales even though in the modern era of excess, consumptions of these nourishments are less useful and can be harmful to our health.

Also, successful advertisements showcase wide open vistas that bring out our ancient subconscious landscape preferences for savanna-like environments where humans first emerged.

But why does the use of celebrities in advertisements yield higher consumption of the products or services by viewers?

Our brains make powerful associations by what we see or hear around us.

Ancient humans lived in small family clans of no more than 150 members. Our brains became very good at distinguishing faces and immediately classifying them into safe or dangerous and similar or dissimilar. So, faces that we see regularly through the media and films trick our minds and they get categorised into safety because our brains are engineered to survive in ancient times with viewing only a small number of faces categorised into safety rather than the modern onslaught of faces through media.

We may even see a news presenter or a television star’s face more often than our own real-life neighbours.

Then we see those same famous faces or hear those same voices alongside a particular product or service and we feel in our subconscious like we can trust that product even though our conscious logic knows that the celebrity was paid for the endorsement.

Politicians use the power of association all the time. As an example, politicians will show their competitors in advertisements with subtle background movements in the frame mimicking movements of snakes to associate their opposition with human beings’ deep innate fear of serpents.

In summary, celebrity and association marketing carry powerful effects in advertisements. Be aware of your own ancient subconscious emotional urges and avoid falling victim to irrational purchasing decisions.

Comments

comments

Loading...
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Loading...
Advertisement
Loading...

Trending