Experts-warn-of-the-devastating-impact-of-locust-swarms-in

Experts warn of the devastating impact of locust swarms in East Africa

Uncategorized By May 28, 2023

A locust outbreak in East Africa is threatening millions of people’s lives and livelihoods as the swarms devastate crops leading to food shortages. The outbreak, the worst in 70 years, has been declared in Kenya and the worst in 25 years in Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea and South Sudan. Locusts change from being solitary insects to highly social during a phenomenon called gregarization, breeding rapidly and forming large swarms that consume crops, leaving behind bare fields. Factors causing the outbreak include climate change, conflict and weak governments. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is appealing for $138m to support control operations.

Experts Warn of the Devastating Impact of Locust Swarms in East Africa

East Africa is currently experiencing a crisis like never before as large swarms of locusts ravage crops, leading to food shortages, and threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. The outbreak, which started in 2019, has been declared the worst in 70 years in Kenya and the worst in 25 years in Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and South Sudan. Experts warn that the locust swarms could lead to a humanitarian and economic disaster in the region if they are not quickly contained.

What Are Locusts and Why Are They a Problem?

Locusts are a type of grasshopper that can undergo a phenomenon called gregarization, which is when they change from being solitary insects to being highly social. During the gregarization phase, the locusts breed rapidly and form large swarms that can migrate over great distances. The swarms can contain millions of locusts, and when they land on crops, they can consume everything in sight, leaving behind bare fields. A single swarm can cover an area of up to 2400 kmĀ².

In East Africa, the locust swarms are causing widespread damage to crops, including maize, sorghum, and cowpeas, which are staples for millions of people. The destruction of crops is leading to food shortages, malnutrition, and rising prices of food products, which are already unaffordable for many families.

Why Is the Locust Outbreak So Widespread in East Africa?

The current locust outbreak in East Africa is the result of a combination of factors, including climate change, conflict, and weak governments. The locusts thrive in warm and moist conditions, and the region has been experiencing unusually heavy rainfall, which has allowed the insects to breed rapidly. The conflict in Somalia and Yemen has also hindered efforts to control the outbreak, as many of the affected areas are inaccessible due to fighting.

Additionally, the lack of resources and poor infrastructure of many of the affected countries has made it difficult to carry out large-scale locust control operations. The costs of aerial spraying and other control methods are high, and many of these countries simply do not have the resources to undertake such operations.

What Is Being Done to Contain the Locust Swarms?

Efforts to contain the locust swarms in East Africa are ongoing, but progress has been slow due to the scale of the outbreak and the challenges faced by the affected countries. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has called for urgent action to address the crisis and has launched a $138 million appeal to support locust control operations in the region. The FAO has also provided technical assistance and materials such as pesticides to affected countries.

Some countries have also taken measures to control the outbreak, including aerial spraying and ground control operations. However, the effectiveness of these measures has been limited, and more resources and support are needed to address the outbreak effectively.

What Can You Do to Help?

You can support efforts to contain the locust swarms in East Africa by donating to organizations that are working on the ground to address the crisis. These include the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), Oxfam, and the International Rescue Committee (IRC). You can also raise awareness about the crisis by sharing information on social media and encouraging others to support efforts to address the outbreak.

FAQs

Q: Is the current locust outbreak in East Africa the worst in history?
A: No, the outbreak is the worst in 70 years in Kenya and the worst in 25 years in Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and South Sudan.
Q: What crops are being affected by the locust swarms?
A: The locust swarms are causing widespread damage to crops, including maize, sorghum, and cowpeas, which are staples for millions of people.
Q: What is being done to contain the locust swarms?
A: Efforts to contain the locust swarms in East Africa are ongoing, but progress has been slow due to the scale of the outbreak and the challenges faced by the affected countries. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has called for urgent action to address the crisis and has launched a $138 million appeal to support locust control operations in the region.
Q: How can I help to address the locust outbreak in East Africa?
A: You can support efforts to contain the locust swarms in East Africa by donating to organizations that are working on the ground to address the crisis. These include the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), Oxfam, and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
Author