Severe Locust Infestation Threatens Lives of 5 Million in East Africa

Addis Ababa A fourth generation desert locust up to 8,000 times larger than previous swarms could destroy crops at the start of the hunger season and leave millions facing food insecurity and famine in East Africa, the International Rescue Committee (ICR) warned today.

The latest ICR report warned that five million people could be further plunged into hunger and famine due to desert locust infestation across the Horn and East African countries.

According to a press release of the committee, the potential damage of the locusts could affect a tenth of the world’s population.

The outbreak in the region is hitting Somalia the hardest, with Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and South Sudan also heavily impacted.

IRC Senior Director of Economic Recovery, Barri Shorey revealed that “this worst outbreak in 70 years is combined with a year of drought and flooding, and now a COVID-19 pandemic preventing people from working and farming, poses an unprecedented risk to food security.”

Without an immediate increase of prevention measures, the region could be on the verge of a “famine like we have never seen before,” Shorey stated.

The desert locust infestation is already feeding on hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops on at least eight countries, it was learned. A one-square-kilometer locust swarm is capable of consuming the same amount of food in one day as approximately 35,000 people.

Community Resilience Committee Vice Chairman for Docol, an IRC partner organization, Sahal Farah said “the worst part is that we do not have the capacity to control it, and so far, we have not received any external support.”

The International Rescue Committee has launched USD 30 million appeal to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus among the world’s most vulnerable populations.

The IRC has called for a major ramp up of preventive measures to stop the swarms from destroying lives and spreading across West Africa and to the Indo-Pakistan border.

 

Source: Ethiopia News agency

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