Nairobi — EFFORTS to tackle the worst invasion in years by desert locusts in East Africa have received a major boost after the United States provided $8 million (R120,7 million).
The funding will support ground-based and aerial intervention efforts in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia where billions of pests are devouring crops and vegetation as well as destroying livestock pastures.
This announcement brings the US government's response to the outbreak of locusts to nearly $9 million (R135,8 million), including funding already provided to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Ethiopia to control and prevent the spread of the infestation, train more than 300 pest experts and scouts plus provide 5 000 sets of protective equipment.
The US is also providing long-term funding to protect food security and livelihoods for the people of East Africa, as well as to strengthen institutional capacity for the detection, surveillance, reporting, and monitoring of locusts and other pests.
The current locust outbreak is expected to continue until June 2020 due to anticipated ongoing favourable conditions for locust reproduction.
A huge plague of locusts has been spotted close to Eastern Equatoria on the South Sudanese border with Kenya and Ethiopia.
Save the Children warned that food supplies of some of the most vulnerable minors and families in South Sudan were thus under threat.
A devastating civil war has left millions food-insecure.
"Our team in South Sudan has been watching the devastating progress of the desert locusts across the Horn of Africa in despair," Rama Hansraj, Save the Children's director in South Sudan, said.