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The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a US$1.5mn emergency relief grant to assist nine countries in the East and Horn of Africa on the control of swarms of desert locusts that are threatening livelihoods and food security

locust pixabay afKenya Swarm of 40-50mn adult desert locust hits millet fields in dmall Kenyan village. (Image source: Lydie Gitton/Pixabay)

The nine beneficiary countries are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is collaborating with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which is leading coordination of development partner support to provide desert locust invasion control, safeguard of livelihoods and to promote early recovery of affected households in the in the East and Horn of Africa. FAO will act as the executing agency for the grant.

The funds will be used to control the spread of the current locust invasion, prevent potential next-generation swarms and to conduct impact assessment and monitoring to enhance preparedness and awareness. A portion of the funds would also be allocated to administrative costs.

In Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, the infestation poses an unprecedented risk to livelihoods and food security in an already fragile region and has caused huge damage to agricultural production. In Ethiopia and Somalia, the outbreak is the worst in 25 years, and in Kenya, in 70 years.

In Ethiopia, locusts have devastated more than 30,000 ha of crops

This includes coffee and tea that account for around 30 per cent of the nation’s exports. Despite government’s interventions, swarms and breeding have been reported in large parts of the country. In Djibouti, more than 80 per cent of 1,700 agro-pastoral farms located in 23 production zones are affected by desert locust infestations.

At least 18 of 47 Kenyan counties are affected with more than 70,000 ha of crops under infestation, according to FAO. Locust swarms are devastating pastureland, maize, cowpeas, beans and other crops despite the government’s efforts to curb the outbreak.

Locust swarms are reportedly threatening Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Sudan and Eritrea. Efforts to control the infestations will require around US$147mn, of which US$75mn has been provided by governments, donors and UN agencies including FAO and the World Food Program (WFP). However, a significant funding shortfall remains.