Desert locust infestation declines in Horn of Africa – FAO

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 Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on Wednesday said that the Horn of Africa has recorded low desert locust infestation in the past month.

FAO attributed the reduced spread of voracious pests to the ongoing aerial control of immature swarms across the region. Significant progress is being made in the aerial control of immature swarms in Kenya and Ethiopia.

“The scale of spring breeding is expected to be limited because of ongoing control operations that continue to reduce the number of swarms and the likelihood of poor spring rains starting next month,” FAO said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

In Ethiopia, immature swarms persist, including southern areas of the Rift Valley where more swarms were reported. In Kenya, small immature swarms are declining in the northern and central parts of the country. It said there were no new reports of swarms arriving from Somalia into Kenya as was the case in the recent past.

According to FAO, one aircraft was deployed from Kenya to assist in managing the situation in north-eastern Tanzania where control operations are underway.

In Somalia, hopper bands and new immature swarms continue to form in northeastern Puntland. They are likely to disperse along the northern plateau, drifting west towards Aysha district in Somali region in eastern Ethiopia. A few swarms may move south towards Kenya.

The UN agency said the present situation in the Horn of Africa differs significantly from one year ago. Intensive aerial control operations, supported by ground teams, are well-established and make good progress in reducing locust infestation. Current swarms are smaller and less numerous since very little rain has fallen since the end of the short rains last year.

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