Horn of Africa at risk of desert locust invasion amid threat to livelihoods

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The Horn of Africa region could experience another round of desert locust invasion amid threat to livelihoods of smallholder farmers and herders, says a forecast from Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) released in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, Monday.

According to IGAD’s projections, the period spanning July to mid-August could witness movement of mature swarms across the region due to favorable weather. “The risk of significant impact to both crops and rangelands is high in Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia due to swarms recorded at the critical time of planting of main season cereal crops,” said IGAD, regional trade bloc in Africa.

The IGAD-affiliated Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC) in its June-July desert locust situation update for the Horn of Africa region said that maturing hoppers have been spotted in different parts of Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. As breeding and reproduction of the voracious pest has intensified amid above-average rainfall, lush vegetation, the strong winds could enhance their mobility in the region.

According to the updated report, the hoppers have been reported in north-western regions of Somalia, where their numbers are increasing, while in Sudan, adult locusts have been spotted in six states.

According to IGAD, the planting season in Ethiopia could be in jeopardy due to the looming desert locust invasion fuelled by heavy rainfall predicted in the months of July and August. And the desert locust control operations have been affected by skirmishes in Tigray and Afar, which could increase the numbers of locusts and cause great damage to crops and pasture.

Ecological conditions expected to fuel spread of desert locusts in the region include abundant rains, green pasture, wind direction and intensity. “Conditions that favor swarms migration in search of areas to lay eggs and moist sandy soils are suitable in the north of the region,” said IGAD. Enditem

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