May 29, 2024

Combatting the Desert Locust Crisis in East Africa

Combatting the Desert Locust Crisis in East Africa

Timothy Robbins in Somalia

The European Union has provided an additional €15 million to support the United Nations and partner countries in their fight against the worst desert locust outbreak in East Africa in decades.

The desert locust outbreak has had a devastating impact on food security in an already vulnerable region. Efforts to contain the spread of the locust plague have been further complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

For this reason, the EU is increasing its support for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) response plan and will support broader EU development cooperation and humanitarian assistance in the region.

“Our friends and partners in the Horn of Africa have witnessed the devastating impact of this major Servact Vivata outbreak on livelihoods and food security,” said Jutta Wolflainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships.

This decision was made at the same time as the informal meeting of ministers in the Horn of Africa, hosted by Pekka Havisto, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, and attended by Jutta Orpilinen, Commissioner for International Partnerships. African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ismal Chergi; Rosemary DiCarlo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Peacebuilding, and IGAD Executive Secretary, Dr. Workne Gbiho.

FAO has developed a response plan, but given the ongoing desert locust crisis, national interventions to support central governments in affected countries should be expanded.

The European Union, together with its partners in the region, is committed to containing this pandemic, anticipating its impact on food and nutrition security and protecting the livelihoods of millions of vulnerable people across East Africa and beyond.

The EU contribution of 15 million euros announced today is in addition to the 42 million euros already mobilized in early 2020 for a comprehensive approach to humanitarian development in the region.

Desert locusts are considered one of the most destructive migratory pests in the world.

Crop and food losses in affected areas could be very high and have significant direct negative impacts on agriculture and livelihoods.

Local food markets may also be affected as food availability decreases and vulnerable populations are affected by high food prices.

The situation in East Africa is rapidly deteriorating, with 27.5 million people suffering from severe food insecurity and at least 35 million more at risk.

Abnormal weather conditions facilitate the reproduction and further spread of locusts. Damage to crops and pastures has been significant across Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia, and the outbreak has the potential to spread to neighboring countries, particularly Djibouti, Eritrea, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Yemen, Sudan, Iran, India and Pakistan are also at risk.

The FAO response plan estimates that approximately €206 million will be needed for the most urgent measures to combat desert locusts and protect and restore agricultural livelihoods.