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Arnold Waiswa Ayazika, the NEMA director, Environmental Monitoring and Compliance says beyond the suppressing of the locusts, NEMA is interested in monitoring the potential impact of chemicals on water sources, food crops and or any other non-target organisms.
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Public Health and environmental experts have said that the use of
chemicals should be done with caution to avoid associated dangers in efforts to
contain locusts’ invasion in Uganda.
Dr Richard K. Mugambe, a Lecturer in the Department of Disease Control and
Environmental Health at Makerere University School of Public Health says there
are possibilities of having some effects if caution is not taken while spraying
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Following the invasion of locusts in the Karamoja region on Sunday, government
has since announced and dispatched several cartons of chemicals for use to
The locusts are reported to have entered Uganda through the northwest Pokot
area through Amudat district and several other districts in Karamoja
Stephen Tibeijuka Byantwale, the Commissioner of Crop Protection at the
Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, says government will
use three chemicals against the desert locusts.
They are Fenitrothion 96 per cent low volume formulation, Malathion, and
Government started dispatching the chemicals for use in the already infested
northern Uganda districts on Monday with a dispatch of some 18,000 litres of
pesticides to Amudat district in Karamoja sub-region. This is to aid the aerial
spraying and manual pump spraying.
Dr Mugambe explains that the chemicals are Organophosphates with low toxicity
and less harmful to both human life and environment. With an exception of
Fenitrothion 96 per cent low volume formulation, which according to Dr Mugambe
endangers bees, the rest of the chemicals are okay, having been approved by the
World Health Organisation (WHO).
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The management of hazardous chemicals and biodiversity offsets in pest control
is regulated through the 2019 National Environmental Management Authority
The law provides for an environmental impact assessment and approval by the
authority especially if chemical spraying for vector control is to be
Arnold Waiswa Ayazika, the NEMA director, Environmental Monitoring and
Compliance says the law provides exemptions of environmental impact assessment
for emergencies situations such as one of Locusts.
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Ayazika says that the NEMA has established a multi-sectoral team which is to be
dispatched this week in the locust invasion areas.
He contends that beyond the suppressing of the locusts, NEMA is interested in
monitoring the potential impact of chemicals on water sources, food crops and
or any other non-target organisms.
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Tibeijuka, who also doubles as the head of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force set
up to fight Locusts says government has put in place measures to ensure proper
use of the chemicals not to harm the environment.
Dr Mugambe argues that the sprayers should be carefully trained on the issues
related to the chemicals that going to be used, the impact, the caution, the
procedures to undertake while spraying among others.
He warned locals against procuring their own chemicals to spray in their gardens.
Dr Mugambe also wants government to expedite processes of sensitization of the
locals in terms of precautionary measures to undertake during the spraying
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This is not the first time Uganda is experiencing Locust
infestation. Uganda last experienced a major locust invasion in 1961, with
immense damage on crops which resulted in acute hunger.
Antonio Querido, the Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Uganda Country
Representative says the insecticides are less harmful to the environment but
quite effective in response.
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According to Querido, another alternative to these synthetic chemicals being
used is bi0pesticides, and growth retardant pesticides, although he argues they
take a longer time to be effective.
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According to research published by University of Hertfordshire, a public
university in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom shows that Fenitrothion is no
longer certified for use in the European Union (EU) having been banned in
While the same chemical is reported to be highly soluble in many organic
solvents and is volatile, research shows it is highly toxic to birds, aquatic
invertebrates and honeybees, and moderately toxic to fish, algae and
Also highly toxic to bees and other beneficial insects, some fish, and other
aquatic life is Malathion, which according to a research released by Oregon
State University (OSU is moderately toxic to other fish and birds, but is
considered low in toxicity to mammals.
Government plans to spray Pyrethroid Insecticides to nymphs since the migratory
insects are mating as they move and therefore multiplying. The insecticide
targets to kill the young locusts before they mature to fly.
But studies recommend keeping pets, and children indoors during and for about
30 minutes after spraying reduce exposure, as pyrethroids are most likely to be
present in breast milk and, and consequently, breastfeeding may be the starting
point of their accumulation in tissue.
Oral exposure to Pyrethroid insecticides according to research published by the
National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) may cause dizziness and
headaches, anorexia, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, pulmonary oedema, convulsions,
coma and even death. NCBI is part of the United States National Library of
Medicine, a branch of the National Institutes of Health.