Consultancy on Assessing the Impact and Efficacy of Locust Control Spraying Operations in Kenya

1 Background and Context

1.1 Background to the Task

For several years, AATF has been collaborating with USDA-FAS to support work around facilitating access by farmers to quality and efficacious pest control products including conventional chemicals and biopesticides in the East African Region. These efforts have contributed to regulatory reforms in the region, culminating to the development and adoption of regulations and guidelines to facilitate testing and registration of both biopesticides and conventional pesticides in the EAC region. It is important to underline that these efforts are timely considering that the region is grappling with threats posed by emerging pests such as the Fall Armyworm (FAW) and the Desert Locust. The latter is an invasive migratory pest of great economic importance in the region following the recent outbreak that has affected several parts of the greater Eastern Africa region (Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan). Following the invasion, several stakeholders have been engaged in control campaigns involving ground and aerial sprays among other strategies. Consequently, AATF and USDA-FAS seeks to assess the Impact and Efficacy of Locust Control Spraying Operations in Kenya. To execute this task, AATF is seeking the services of 5 individual consultants to form a team of experts that will help to deliver on this task.

1.2 Brief Description of AATF

AATF is a not-for-profit organisation with a mission of making available, to smallholder farmers, agricultural technologies that were previously not accessible to them. Founded on the premise of tackling poverty and food insecurity through technological interventions, AATF empowers farmers to transform their livelihoods by equipping them with better tools and inputs that would, without the organisation’s intervention, take a much longer time to reach them and cost a lot more. These efforts, combined with optimal agricultural practices and product value addition, combine to contribute to agricultural transformation in Africa leading food security and poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa. AATF implements its mandate to achieve an overall goal of transforming livelihoods through innovative technologies for improved incomes and food security in African. AATF sets out to achieve this ambitious goal through three strategic objectives: (1) Diversify agricultural technologies accessed for use in SSA; (2) Accelerate commercialisation of agricultural technologies for improved farmers’ livelihoods and (3) Create an enabling environment for increased uptake and use of agricultural technologies in SSA.

1.3 Background on the Locust invasion and Control in the East African Region and Justification for the Current Task

The ongoing locust infestation is the worst in Kenya for 70 years and the worst in Somalia and Ethiopia for 25 years. According to FAO, in Ethiopia alone, over 200,000 hectares of cropland have been damaged by locusts, resulting in a loss of over 356,000 tons of grain. In Kenya, the locusts were first reported in December 2019 when they crossed into the country from Ethiopia. Ever since, the locusts have spread to nearly 60% of the counties, with early reports indicating that the pest had devoured nearly 175,000 hectares of crop land and a much bigger area under pastures, therefore putting the livelihoods of millions of Kenyans at risk. The pest outbreak is at a critical juncture, as locust breeding has been facilitated by unprecedented drought, followed by the rainy season. Large swarms are forecast in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia; converging with crop maturation in May and June. The United States Government (USG) and the United States Mission to the United Nations (USUN) representatives are deliberating the critical strategic question of whether current locust control operations are enough to mitigate significant crop losses in East Africa during the next planting season.

Locust outbreaks across Africa are not new and have been recorded in history since biblical times. On average, outbreaks occur about every 15 years. Severe outbreaks, sometimes called ‘plagues’, occur on average every 50 to 75 years (U.S. Congress, 1990; Joffe, 1995). The question of strategic value regarding locust control operations is also not new. In the early 1990s, following the ‘plague’ of 1986-1989, the U.S. Congress commissioned a study to determine the cost and benefits of what was then hailed as the first successful campaign to intervene and stop a locust plague (U.S. Congress, 1990). In terms of direct interventions, the 1980’s campaign cost the global community some $275 million across 23 countries with the U.S. contributing about $60 million in aircraft, pesticides and technical assistance, in that order (U.S. Congress, 1990).

The congressional report, titled: Special Report: A Plague of Locusts, questioned whether the global approach taken in the 1980s campaign was effective in stopping the locust outbreak or if other factors, in particular weather, were the reasons for ending the plague (see, for example, Lockwood, 2004). There were concerns from some stakeholders at the time that the uncounted costs of the campaign, e.g., human, animal and environmental risks associated with widespread application of pesticides were not properly considered or assessed. Also questioned were the policy results associated with diverting longer-term development funds into short term emergency response funding. Finally, some experts questioned the value in spending the enormous amounts of resources to control a highly visible pest such as locust with the less visible but also devastating losses of seasonal endemic pests. For example, common endemic stem borers cause about 400,000 MT of grain loss in Kenya yearly.

The 1990 congressional locust report found that the efficacy, efficiency, and equitability of the locust control programs are largely undocumented. It should be noted that the World Bank also assessed the 1980s campaign and reached similar conclusions to the congressional report (Joffe, 1995). That situation remains largely unchanged in the current 2019-2021 locust plague campaign. Accordingly, several organizations including the FAO have proposed some type of assessment of the current locust campaign (FAO, 2020). While the scope of a broad assessment such as the congressional report cited above would be prohibitively expensive, a specific focused assessment of a representative locust control operation including cost, efficacy and benefits could yield valuable insight. Accordingly, we propose to conduct a focused field assessment of current operations, procedures and efficacy associated with a small but representative pesticide control campaign in Kenya. These data can then be used to extrapolate costs and benefits across the wider control campaign. In the latest invasion, parts of Northern, Central and South Eastern Kenya has been seriously affected. In a bid to control the invasion aerial and ground sprays were initiated in May 2020. As these efforts have been going on, a number of critical questions still remain unanswered such as:

1) Are donor-funded aerial and ground spray operations aimed at locust control having the desired outcome of reducing pest pressure?

2) Does the cost-benefit analysis justify the multi-million-dollar investment; and,

3) Are appropriate pest mitigation measures being taken to decrease harm to people, animals and the environment?

4) How can technology, including satellite remote sensing data, contribute to more effective operations?

Information gathered through the current task will be essential to helping all partners monitor and contribute to an effective response. This has been identified as a critical development activity to inform current and future locust outbreaks.

2 Purpose, Objectives and Deliverables of the Consultancy

2.1 Main Goal and Specific Objectives

The main goal of the current consultancy will be to determine the performance, efficacy, cost, and benefit of spray operations on locust pest prevalence.

Specifically, the consultants will be expected to:

1) Review and analyze the written country level Locust management plans;

2) Assess the ability of international organizations to implement/support the approved plans effectively, especially given COVID constraints, in partnership with National and County Governments;

3) Assess the impact of operations on pest population, and

4) Estimate the potential size and spread of remaining locust populations in East Africa and potential for crop damage related to remaining swarms.

2.2 Deliverables

Deliverables should include the following:

a) Background information on the locust pest and current management practices, as outlined by FAO (FAO, 2001, 2005);

b) A desk view of past assessments, analyses, and data related to pest prevalence, damage, yield/livelihood impacts.

c) An assessment of local locust control operations outlining the operations aspects including planning, targeting and execution. This assessment will be conducted in-country and include operations and tactical spray service providers.

d) An assessment of the efficacy of 2-4 spray operations. While the focus is on aerial control this assessment might include ground control operations as a comparator.

e) if possible, an initial assessment of the impact of spraying on yields. These results could be used to estimate a cost-benefit analysis extrapolated across the region.

f) An out-brief of the operation would be provided to USAID, USDA and USUN and, optionally, FAO.


The task is expected to be undertaken within 60 days, starting from beginning of May 2021.

4 Contract and Reporting Details

Type of contract: Each Consultant will be offered a fixed-price contract to include all the activities and deliverables listed above.

Reporting. The consultant will report to the Senior Manager, Policy and Regulatory Affairs or all issues related to the program and fieldwork, including in-country logistics.

5 Qualifications, Experience and Skills.

The team will be composed of five (5) inter-disciplinary technical experts, led by a Project Manager. The individual members in the team will be expected to have a combination of the following academic and technical capabilities, experience, and competencies in order to deliver on the assignment. AATF seeks to engage experts in the following fields:

  1. Technical Experts – Entomology (2 Positions)

The Technical expert Entomology are expected to bring to the team technical advice on matters related to the Biology of Desert Locusts. The candidate(s) must:

a) Possess at least a master’s degree, in Entomology, Crop Protection or any other related discipline.

b) Demonstrate understanding of the Desert Locust control strategies at regional level.

c) Demonstrate clear understanding of experimental designs applicable to assessing the efficacy of pest control products.

d) Demonstrated understanding of the management of invasive/migratory pests at regional level.

e) Have experience in interacting with government aid agencies, NGOs, and the private sector.

f) Experience in conducting evaluation of regional or country level projects is desirable.

g) Experience in working in the rural areas of Kenya is a MUST for the Expert to be based in Kenya.

h) Excellent communication, presentation, writing and reporting skills.

  1. Statistician (1 Position)

The statician will support the team on experimental design and statistical data analysis. The Candidate must:

a) Possess at least a master’s degree, in Biostatistics, Statistics, Mathematics or any other related Discipline.

b) Demonstrate experience in design of studies in the Agricultural Sector.

c) Demonstrate clear understanding of experimental designs applicable to assessing the efficacy of pest control products.

d) Possess prior experience in analysis of large data sets using statistical software (STATA, SPSS, GENSTAT, R, etc).

  1. Agricultural Economist with M&E Expertise (1 Position)

The Agricultural Economist will bring Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Experience to the team and will support assessment of Cost Benefits of Desert Locust Control sprays. The candidate must:

a) At least a master’s degree, in Agricultural Economics or any other agricultural discipline.

b) Proven experience in carrying out evaluations of Agricultural projects, especially USAID funded projects. Experience in carrying out evidence-based impact evaluations is a MUST.

c) Good understanding of the agricultural context in Kenya.

d) Experience in qualitative and quantitative data collection analysis using statistical software.

e) High degree of independence, flexibility and ability to meet strict deadlines.

f) Excellent communication, presentation, writing and reporting skills.

6 Remuneration and other benefits

A lumpsum professional consultancy fees shall be paid to each suitable candidate for the tasks described. The project will cater for travel, accommodation, per diems and other field related costs incurred by the team of consultants on reimbursable basis. The Consultant will also be responsible for his/her own health insurance. AATF/USDA-FAS rates will apply.

7 Terms of Payment

The consultants will be paid in instalment as follows:

· 40% Upon signing of the Contract.

· 60% after successful completion of the task and submission of all the necessary final reports and documents.

8 Application Criteria

Interested consultants should submit detailed technical and financial proposals (not more than 5 pages) covering:

i. Short overview of how the candidate meets the qualifications, experience and skills requirements (no more than one page)

ii. Demonstrated understanding of the terms of reference.

iii. Description of the proposed approach

iv. A detailed work plan (time and activity schedule)

v. Detailed budget

vi. Profile of the consultant and Curriculum Vitae.

vii. Samples of two most recent related works (and/or references for the same with contact details of the referees.

9 Deadline for submission of technical and financial proposals

The proposal must be received by email at the address: no later than 30th March 2021 at 17:00 Hrs, East African Time. Clearly indicate the specific position that you are applying for on the Subject.

11 Terms and Conditions of the Proposal

AATF reserves the right to request new or additional information regarding each service provider and any individual or other persons associated with its project proposal.

AATF reserves the right not to make any appointment from the proposals submitted. Service providers shall not make available or disclose details pertaining to their Project proposal with anyone not specifically involved, unless authorized to do so by AATF. Service providers shall not issue any press release or other public announcement pertaining to details of their project proposal without the prior written approval.

AATF Service providers are required to declare any conflict of interest they may have in the transaction for which the tender is submitted or any potential conflict of interest. AATF reserves the right not to consider further any proposal where such a conflict of interest exists or where such potential conflict of interest may arise.

12 Confidentiality Statement

All data and information received from AATF for the purpose of this assignment are to be treated confidential and are only to be used in connection with the execution of these Terms of Reference. All intellectual property rights arising from the execution of these Terms of Reference are assigned to AATF.

How to apply

The proposal must be received by email at the address: no later than 30th March 2021 at 17:00 Hrs, East African Time. Clearly indicate the specific position that you are applying for on the Subject.

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