One mln people require food assistance as second generation locusts invade
FAO appeals for USD 300mln for July
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that mass desert locust migrations and second generation breeding have occurred in the eastern and southern parts of Ethiopia, further exacerbating food insecurity in these areas.
Chimimba David Phiri (PhD), a policy economist and sub-regional coordinator for Eastern Africa and representative to the African Union with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), told The Reporter that based on a recently conducted joint assessment involving the government, FAO, and partners, it was found that as of April 2020, desert locust had affected 806,400 agricultural households in Ethiopia. The swarm of locusts have infested 197,163 hectares of cropland and 1,350, 000 hectares of rangeland. Consequently, some 356,286 tonnes of cereals have been lost to the invaders, Phiri said. “As a result, an additional 976,381 people would likely be in need of emergency food assistance,” he said.
FAO reports that it is the worst locust infestation to ever happen in Ethiopia past 25 years; however, has not yet reached to the level of plague. The plague level infestation refers to an invasion of almost all viable vegetation and crop covered lands in a particular nation. Yet, FAO warns that unless surveillance and controlling efforts are not strengthened, the infestation could easily progress to a plague level eating up enormous amounts of crops and available vegetation.
Ethiopia, with Kenya and Somalia make up the worst affected countries in the region; and in another measure, Ethiopia joins South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen representing four out of the ten worst food crisis-hit countries affected by the ongoing desert locust upsurge.
Overall, 27 million people in six IGAD member countries that include Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda are classified as Crisis or worst-ridden countries. According to FAO; “These six countries have all faced the three main drivers of acute food insecurities– weather extremes, conflict or insecurity and economic shocks– adding to the complexity of the food security situation”.
Back in February, FAO has called for USD 153 million in support to assist rapid and large-scale operations in those seriously affected countries. However, the needs have gone up and for July alone, some 300 million is required as Phiri has outlined. “FAO is now asking for USD 311 million to implement locust controls on 3.2 million hectares and provide livelihoods support to 313,000 households. FAO’s current appeal for East Africa and Yemen is USD 231.6 million. USD 179 million has so far been received or committed to-date with a gap of USD 52.6 million,” Phiri said. Accordingly, the appeal will cover Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Yemen.
So far, as the expert has highlighted, more than one million hectares of land have been surveyed and some 600,000 hectares have been treated via FAO’s appeal in East Africa and Yemen, since January. An estimated half a trillion locusts have been eliminated resulting over a 1.2 million metric tonnes of cereals being protected which according to Phiri is enough to feed around 7.9 million people for one year valued at USD 357.3 million.