East Africa: Locust Invasion Grips Vulnerable East Africa

Red locust (file photo).

Addis Ababa — EAST Africa is on the brink of a prolonged food insecurity crisis amid fears the desert locust invasion in Ethiopia and Somalia will spread to neighbouring countries.

Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, South Sudan and Sudan are at risk of the invasion.

The pest has already resulted in significant losses on croplands and jeopardised the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia and Somalia.

In Ethiopia, they have covered nearly 430 square kilometres and have consumed about 1,3 million metric tonnes of vegetation over a two-month period.

The locust has affected thousands of hectares of land in the autonomous Somali regions of Galmudug, Puntland and Somaliland.

David Phiri, Food and Agricultural Organisation sub-regional coordinator for Eastern Africa warned that the locust was worsening the food security situation.

He said as the weather seemed favourable for the locust breading, there was a high probability that the pest would continue to breed until March-April 2020, with a high probability of spreading to other Eastern African nations.

"Unless we control the spread, it will greatly affect people and livestock in many parts of the sub-region, which is already home to 50 percent of Africa's food insecure people," Phiri cautioned.

The desert locust is the most dangerous of several species of locusts. It is normally present in the desert areas across 20 countries between West Africa and India, covering nearly 16 million square kilometres.

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