International humanitarian actors have called on the international community to exert urgent concerted efforts to avert desert locust-inflicted food insecurity across Ethiopia and its neighboring Horn of Africa (HoA) countries.
The latest call was made by Oxfam, which stressed that desert locust “plagues have hit the region at a time when it is already facing very high levels of food insecurity after countries had been hit by huge droughts and in some areas flash floods.”
The Oxfam also warned that the desert locust swarms that are “sweeping across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia could grow 500 times bigger by June and invade Uganda and South Sudan unless they are immediately brought under control.”
“Currently, 25.5 million people in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda are already suffering from hunger and severe malnutrition. These infestations of hundreds of millions of locusts need to be quickly contained before the next main cropping season of March to July,” an Oxfam statement quoted Lydia Zigomo, Regional Director of Oxfam in Horn, East and Central Africa, as saying.
Noting the continuous drought that affected Ethiopia since 2015 as well as other calamities such as floods, Oxfam also stressed that the ongoing locust infestation has now destroyed hundreds of square kilometers of vegetation in the East African country’s Amhara and Tigray regions since November 2019.
In Kenya, the locust swarms have increased significantly over the past month across 13 counties across the country including Isiolo, Laikipia, and Meru.
It also said that “tens of thousands of hectares of land have been affected in Somaliland, Puntland and Galmudug, as mature swarms hit the Garbahare area near the Kenyan border,” as it emphasized challenges against the desert locust due to insecurity hampering efforts to survey and control the infestations in parts of Somalia.
Recalling the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)’s recent estimate that stated Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia need 70 million U.S. dollars to tackle the plague, Oxfam also called on donors “to fund this response immediately, in order to avoid more people falling hungry and using up whatever assets they have to buy food.”
On Thursday, the FAO had also warned that the worst desert locust outbreak in decades has threatened the food security of East African countries. Enditem