Desert Locust Invasion Update: 1st May 2020
The United Nations has predicted that the second wave of locusts expected in June-July in East Africa could be 20 times worse
Delays in obtaining pesticides, helicopters, and other vital supplies have set back efforts to combat East Africa’s worst desert locust outbreak in decades.
Speaking to the UN Security Council last week, David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, mentioned the locusts as one of the reasons 2020 could see the world facing the worst humanitarian crisis since the second World War.
A second wave of desert locusts is threatening East Africa with estimates that it will be 20 times worse than the plague that descended two months ago.
This second invasion from breeding grounds in Somalia includes more young adults which are especially voracious eaters.
New hopper bands and an extremely alarming number of new swarms are forming in north and central Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and continue to pose very high risks to food security and livelihoods.
In May, the eggs are expected to hatch into hopper bands that will form new swarms in late June and July, which will coincide with the start of the harvest season in most parts of the region.
Although ground and aerial control operations are in progress, COVID-19 lockdown and movement restrictions are slowing down the locust invasion response and widespread rains will allow the new swarms to mostly remain, mature and lay eggs while a few swarms could move from Kenya to Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Ministries of Agriculture in the affected countries are currently working with FAO to mitigate the effects of these disastrous pests.
Kenyan officials have said coronavirus crackdowns have slowed efforts to fight the infestation, as crossing borders has become harder and pesticide deliveries are facing delays.
In Ethiopia, where approximately 6 million people live in areas affected by the locust outbreak, the infestation if unchecked “will cause large-scale crop, pasture and forest-cover loss, worsening food and feed insecurity- warned FAO.
About one million individuals in Ethiopia have been affected by the desert locust upsurge and require emergency food assistance.
Immature swarms in the south (SNNPR, Oromia), mature swarms in N Oromia and N Somali regions; mid-instar hopper bands in east (Dire Dawa - Ayasha)
Ethiopia’s agriculture minister has said efforts are underway to deploy six helicopters against the infestation that could last until late August.
But ministry spokesman Moges Hailu spoke of an ominous sign: The locust swarms are now appearing in locations where they had not been previously sighted.
Entomologists and Geo-Information Systems Specialists from both the Ministry and the Uganda Police Defense Force are continuing surveillance of the invasions to provide extent maps along with advisories.
Locust activity in Kenya continues to threaten Uganda and the food security of the Karamojong.
“In Uganda, we have succeeded in controlling Desert Locust invasions from the first and second wave of this plague and will use the same collaboration to fight any future invasions,”Pius Wakabi Kasajja Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Government of Uganda.
Key Online Resources
Click here to view images on the locust invasion situation