FAO Director-General QU Dongyu has welcomed a US$18mn contribution from Germany to provide assistance to those directly affected by the desert locust upsurge in East Africa

desert locust 1973079 640Funds will assist farmers and protect rural livelihoods affected by the worsening outbreak. (Image source: 850977/Pixabay)

Germany’s Permanent Representative to FAO, Ulrich Seidenberger, made the announcement at FAO headquarters in Rome. The new pledge comes after Germany already contributed US$3.3mn.

Qu said, “We are working to curb the locusts’ spread but we also need to safeguard livelihoods and promote early recovery.”

FAO’s Desert Locust Information Service said it is the worst outbreak to strike Ethiopia and Somalia for 25 years and the worst infestation that Kenya has experienced in 70 years. Djibouti and Eritrea have also been affected, and locusts have been reported in South Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, although the situation there is less dire.

This week new swarms appeared in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and reached the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The director-general stressed the situation was extremely alarming in East Africa, a region where 20mn people are already considered food insecure. There, the swarms have laid eggs and in a few weeks’ time, these will mature, and start to eat crops - right at the start of the region’s main agricultural season.

“Fighting the locusts is half the battle. The other half is helping the people affected,” QU said. “Germany’s support will enable FAO to provide much needed support to the farmers and their families.”

Pasture and croplands have already suffered damage in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, and there are potentially severe consequences for the region where millions rely on agriculture and livestock rearing for their survival.

FAO has appealed for US$138mn in urgent funding to assist the countries that have been impacted. Germany’s announcement raises the amount pledged by donors to US$69mn.

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