Appeal for more funds to control locusts

March 11, 2020 By 0 Comments

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says a food crisis could be looming in East Africa if more resources are not forthcoming, and has appealed to donors for an additional $62m (£48m).

Director General Qu Dongyu says the next few weeks will be critical.

Control operations against locusts are under way in 13 countries, from India in the east, all the way across to Mauritania in West Africa.

The main threats are in East Africa and Yemen, as well the Gulf states, Iran, Pakistan and India.

Most recently, locusts have been seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and swarms have arrived in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, and along the coast of Iran.

The FAO has told us that in three of the worst affected countries, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, they estimate that at least 100,000 hectares in each one needs to be sprayed with insecticide.

By the end of January, they were substantially short of this target in those countries in East Africa.

In January, FAO appealed for $76m. That figure has now risen to $138m.

So far, only $52m has been received, $10m of which has this week come from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The UN wants this money to help countries control the locusts by spraying on the ground or from the air, and to improve cross-border co-ordination.

But funds are also being used to provide immediate and longer-term assistance for farmers whose livelihoods have been affected by locust swarms.