FAO - Worst locust infestation in East Africa


Rome, 01 April 2020 - The Greater Horn of Africa is currently experiencing the worst desert locust upsurge in a quarter of a century.

The Federal Foreign Office is providing two million euro to cope with the plague.
The Federal Foreign Office is providing two million euro to cope with the plague.© Ben Curtis/AP/dpa

In response, FAO ist making every effort to support government-led control and surveillance operations, as well as livelihood interventions, in the affected countries.

While the new desert locust information dashboard presents an overview of the desert locust situation and ongoing response activities, it is also important to provide an update on how the Organization, in the context of the various challenges emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, is working to maintain operations to contain the spread of desert locust and safeguard livelihoods in the affected regions.

In terms of control operations, FAO is currently supporting the operation of five planes in Ethiopia and Kenya. Fortunately, the flying crews for these aircraft reached both countries before confinement measures came into effect. While COVID-19 has not directly impacted these crews, it has prompted concerns among aircraft companies and reduced the number of responsive offers to FAO tenders for additional planes.

Similarly, the COVID-19 pandemic has also affected the supply of pesticides, with delays already experienced due to reduced manpower and the postponement of the delivery of purchased orders. Confinement measures may also impact the Organization’s plans to deploy technical experts to the field. To meet these challenges, FAO is already exploring all possible options to avoid any shortfall in the supply of pesticides and any gaps in personnel.

Within the countries affected by the desert locust upsurge, control and surveillance operations have not been interrupted, thanks to the fact that governments are prioritizing such activities. However, confinement measures may delay the arrival of eight additional helicopters and flying crews, which FAO has engaged for further surveillance actions.

(Source: FAO)

Background Information

After long periods of drought and continuous rain in East Africa, swarms of desert locusts are spreading at breakneck speed in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Eritrea. Southern Sudan and Uganda are also at risk.

The affected states cannot cope with this infestation on their own, the international community must provide Support.

Therefore Germany had increased its support for the Food and Agriculture Organization: a total of EUR 20 million has been made available for the fight against the plague.

This will be used to intensify soil and air controls and to initiate measures to protect and secure livelihoods (e.g. through cash aid).

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