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Russia donates US$10mn to fight Desert Locusts in East Africa

FAO director-general QU Dongyu has thanked the Russian Federation for boosting the fight against the Desert Locust outbreak in East Africa by making a US$10mn contribution to support FAO operations in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda

Russia's contribution aims to bridge that gap and the funds will be used in buying pesticides, fuel, vehicles and sprayers, as well as for the employment and training of personnel for the pest's elimination.

"We are grateful to the Russian Federation for its contribution to help fight the alarming impact of the Desert Locust upsurge. It will help efforts to stop the spread of the locusts and to safeguard the livelihoods of farmers and their families who are at risk from this scourge," Qu said.

East Africa is experiencing its largest invasion of Desert Locusts in decades. This is the most destructive migratory pest in the world and can form dense and highly mobile swarms capable of covering a distance of up to 150km in a single day.

Desert Locust pose a major threat to food security and rural livelihoods

The situation remains alarming. In the six East African countries worst affected or at risk of locusts - Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania - around 20 million people are already experiencing acute food insecurity, and a further 15 million in Yemen, which is also being affected by the pest.

FAO considers its fight against the rapid spread of Desert Locusts in East Africa one of its top priorities. The UN agency has issued an emergency humanitarian appeal totalling US$153.2mn for surveillance and control operations and to support farmers' livelihoods.

The assistance package includes surveillance and control operations, pesticides and their means of delivery (agricultural leases, mobile and portable sprayers), as well as food, fodder and seeds for farmers and pastoralists.

So far, FAO has received US$117.3mn in donations from national governments, foundations and other organisations but there is a shortfall of US$35.9mn.