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IGAD asks region to prevent more locust invasion

Author: Daniel Danis | Published: Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is calling on countries and partners in the region to start aerial and ground spraying to prevent the Desert Locust threat in the region.

This comes a day after the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization warned that locust invasion is making the bad food security situation in the sub-region worse.

Experts have raised the alarm over the unprecedented swarms of locust that poses serious threats to food security and livelihoods in the Horn of Africa, including South Sudan.

Locusts which have invaded many areas in the neighboring Kenya is expected to invade South Sudan if nothing is done to address their movements.

In February last year, the UN-Food Agricultural Organization issued an alert about the invasion of the desert locusts first reported in Yemen.

The locusts then spread to Africa in Somali, Ethiopia and Eritrea before crossing into Kenya through Mandera, where they were first sighted.

There are concerns that the desert locusts could spread to the Eastern parts such as Kapoeta State and Karamoja in Uganda.

Officials in Kenya say some swarms have started to mature in open areas of sandy moist soil where eggs would hatch and give rise to numerous hopper bands in February.

They reveal that the locust could continue northwest to Turkana County, which neighbors Kapoeta, while others may reach northeast Uganda.

Locusts cause devastating damage to green vegetation including crops, pasture or trees.

According to FAO, this is the worst situation in 25 years and unusual weather and climate conditions have contributed to it, including heavy and widespread rains since October 2019.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the IGAD Executive Secretary warned that further increase in locust swarms is likely to continue until about June due to the continuation of favorable ecological conditions for Locust breeding.

“Prevention and control measures must be scaled up to contain further spread of the Desert Locust and countries must act urgently to avoid a food security crisis in the region,” Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu said.

Among other measures, the region is also calling for pooling of funds to respond to support ground surveillance and encourage early reporting by citizens.

The locusts travel by wind for at least 150-200km a day.

A tonne of locusts can consume the same amount of food per day as about 20 elephants, or 25 camels or 2,500 people.

A desert locust has a lifespan of about three-four months.

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