Locust outbreak threatens rural food security across East Africa-FAO


A serious and widespread Desert Locust outbreak is destroying crops and pasture across eastern Ethiopia and neighboring areas of Somalia, parts of Sudan, Eritrea and northern Kenya with a high risk of further spread in the absence of immediate and significant scale up in control activities, a United Nations body warned on Wednesday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) has warned that is a risk that some swarms could appear in northeast Uganda, southeast South Sudan and southwest Ethiopia.

According to FAO, this is the worst situation in 25 years and unusual weather and climate conditions have contributed to it, including heavy and widespread rains since October 2019.

A further increase in locust swarms is likely to continue until about June due to the continuation of favourable ecological conditions for Locust breeding.

There has been a significant and extremely dangerous increase in swarm activity during the past week in Kenya where numerous, large immature swarms are spreading from the initial invasion areas of the northern and Mount Kenya.

One immature swarm was 60 km long by 40 km wide in the northeast. More swarms are expected to occur in these areas, some of which are already moving north of Mt. Kenya westwards to the Rift Valley where they could continue northwest to Turkana county, while others will move west along the Ethiopian border, and some swarms could move further south to Tana River county.

“IGAD calls on its Member States, the East African Community and partners to pull resources together to prevent, control and possibly eradicate the Desert Locust threat to the food security of the region,” Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, IGAD’s Executive Secretary said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

“Prevention and control measures must be scaled up to contain further spread of the Desert Locust”. “Countries must act urgently to avoid a food security crisis in the region” he added.

Dr David Phiri, FAO Sub Regional Coordinator for the Eastern and Representative of the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa has warned, “the locust is making the bad food security situation worse in the sub-region, exacerbating the existing dire food insecurity and malnutrition in the sub-region.”

He added that the weather seems favourable for the locust breeding with high probability that the locust will continue to breed until March-April 2020, if no longer.


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