By Keefa Nuwahereza
The United Nation (UN) Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has called for international intervention/aid to “avert any threats to food security, livelihoods, malnutrition” so as to mitigate the locus invasion, which is likely to worsen famine levels in parts of Africa. . It requires USD10m for the campaign.
Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are struggling with “unprecedented” and “devastating” swarms of the food-eating locusts, the FAO has said, fearing locust numbers could grow 500 times by June, invading neighbouring countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and DR Congo.
Ethiopia and Somalia have not faced an infestation on this scale for 25 years, while Kenya has not seen a locust threat this size for 70 years, the FAO said earlier this week.
South Sudan and Uganda are also at risk if the swarms continue to grow and spread. For Uganda, as of Thursday January 23, 2020 , they were 166KM away from her border with Kenya.
Uganda needs five billion shillings (US$ 1.4m) to avert a possible invasion of desert locusts, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.
The swarms have spread from Yemen across the Red Sea. Heavy rainfall at the end of 2019 created ideal conditions for the food-devouring insects to flourish.
And the problem could get worse as the year goes on. Aside from growing numbers in east Africa, locusts have also been breeding in India, Iran and Pakistan, which could turn into swarms in the spring.
Locusts can travel up to 150 kilometres (93 miles) in a day. Each adult insect can eat its own weight in food each day.
A swarm the size of Paris could eat the same amount of food as half the population of France in a single day.
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