The current Desert Locust situation poses a serious threat to food security and livelihoods according to regional experts.
This is the worst Desert Locust situation in 25 years for most of the affected countries, for Kenya, in 70 years,according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Unusual weather and climate conditions have contributed to the spread, including heavy and widespread rains since October 2019. A further increase in locust swarms is likely to continue until June due to the continuation of favourable ecological conditions for Desert Locust breeding.
“Favourable breeding conditions continue, the increase in locust swarms could last until June. And left unchecked, the numbers of crop-devouring insects could grow 500 fold by then,” read a statement from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
FAO has urged for a collective campaign to deal with the crisis, and raised concerns over the risk that the swarms spilling over into more countries in East Africa.
“if efforts to deal with the voracious pest are not scaled up across the region”.
Large and numerous swarms continue to destroy crops and pastures across parts of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya. Locust breeding and movements are taking place also in Djibouti, Eritrea and Sudan.
There is a high risk that swarms could appear in northeast Uganda, southeast South Sudan and southwest Ethiopia. The high risk of further spread in the East Africa region necessitates an immediate and significant intensification of control activities.
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According to the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG) most recent update, the East Africa region is already experiencing a high degree of food insecurity, with over 19 million people coping with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or higher levels of hunger. Under a worst-case scenario, where the current locust upsurge is not quickly contained and becomes a plague by the next main cropping season, significant crop and pasture losses would cause food security in affected areas to worsen further.