Photo taken on Feb. 4, 2020 shows a cloud of locusts flying in Mwingi North, Kenya. A number of East African countries are suffering serious locust infestation, with Kenya experiencing its worst in 70 years, which, if left unchecked, could grow 500 times in scale by June, a UN spokesman said Friday. Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said besides Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are undergoing their worst locust infestation in 25 years, and that Djibouti, Eritrea, Uganda and Tanzania are also experiencing swarm activity and locust breeding, while the risk of spread to South Sudan is high. (Xinhua/Fred Mutune)

The Chinese government is committed in supporting Ethiopia’s dual fight against the ongoing perils of the COVID-19 pandemic and the desert locust invasion, Liu Yu, economic and commercial counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia, said on Monday.

“This year is very critical for the whole world, in particular for Ethiopia as the country suffers not only from the COVID-19 pandemic but also the worst locust invasion in 25 years,” Liu said.

“A friend in need is a friend indeed. In both fights against the pandemic and the desert locust, China has been always standing shoulder-to-shoulder and hand-in-hand with Ethiopia,” Liu said.

“China was the first country to supply medical products and to dispatch medical team to help Ethiopia fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” she added.

She made the remarks during the handing-over ceremony of batches of much-needed anti-locust materials to Ethiopia in order to help the East African country’s fight against the worst desert locust invasion in the country’s recent history.

The batch of anti-locust donation by the Chinese government, among other things, include 72 tons of pesticides, 2,000 units of hand held ULV sprayers as well as 20,000 sets of personal protective gears, it was noted.

Since June 2019, the East African country has been suffering from the worst desert locust invasion in about 25 years, affecting major crop-producing parts of the country.

Ethiopia’s State Minister of Agriculture, Mandefro Nigussie, also during the handing-over ceremony commended the Chinese government for the “timely and much-needed” support to Ethiopia’s fight to control the desert locust invasion.

“We would like to extend our appreciation to the desert locust control protective equipments, desert locust control chemicals, and spraying machines,” Nigussie said, as he emphasized that the materials “are important inputs in controlling the current challenging pest, especially in five major regions Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, Afar, Somali, and one city administration.”

“Currently, our team is fighting against this pest and your support is a special weapon to help them win the desert locust control,” he added.

The desert locust, which is considered as the “most dangerous of the nearly one dozen species of locusts,” is a major food security peril in desert areas across 20 countries, stretching from west Africa all the way to India, covering nearly 16 million square kilometers, according to the United Nations.

Ethiopia, which is the highest COVID-19 affected country in East Africa, is also presently fighting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Monday morning, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ethiopia reached 89,137 as the death toll due to illnesses related to the pandemic reached 1,352. Enditem

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