FAO seeks 40 mln USD for anti-locust fight in East Africa, Yemen

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A local tour guide holds a handfull of dead desert locusts after an invasion in Shaba National Reserve in Isiolo, northern Kenya, 16 January 2020 (issued 18 January 2020). Large swarms of desert locusts have been invading northern Kenya for weeks, after having infested some 70,000 hectares of land in Somalia which the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has termed the 'worst situation in 25 years' in the Horn of Africa. FAO cautioned on 13 January 2020 that it poses an 'unprecedented threat' to food security and livelihoods in the region. The government is spraying pesticide in the affected areas to battle the insects. EPA/Daniel Irungu

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is seeking a further 4.46 billion shillings (40 million U.S. dollars) to intensify its anti-desert locust operations in East Africa and Yemen in 2021.

FAO Wednesday said the funds will enable it to increase surveillance and control activities in the most affected countries — Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. “Without additional funding, control efforts could slow down or halt from the end of January 2021, potentially allowing the numbers of the crop-devouring pest to surge in some places,” FAO said in a statement.

It warned that farmers whose livelihoods have been impacted, require further support and national capacities in monitoring and responding to desert locust still need to be strengthened.

According to FAO, a new generation of desert locust swarms is threatening agricultural and pastoral livelihoods and the food security of millions of people in the Horn of Africa and Yemen despite intense efforts to control the pest throughout 2020.

It warned that new locust swarms are already forming and threatening to re-invade northern Kenya and breeding is also underway on both sides of the Red Sea, posing a new threat to Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.According to FAO, more than 35 million people are already acutely food insecure in these five countries and FAO estimates this number could increase by another 3.5 million, if nothing is done to control the latest outbreak.

“Control operations have prevented the loss of an estimated 2.7 million tonnes of cereal, worth nearly 800 million dollars, in countries already hard hit by acute food insecurity and poverty. That is enough to feed 18 million people a year,” it said.

More than 1.3 million hectares of locust infestations have been treated in 10 countries since January with international support and a large-scale response campaign coordinated by the FAO.The UN food agency said favorable weather conditions and widespread seasonal rains have caused extensive breeding in eastern Ethiopia and Somalia.

“This was worsened by Cyclone Gati which brought flooding to northern Somalia last month allowing locust infestations to increase further in the coming months,” FAO said.

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