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Switzerland donates US$1.02mn to fight desert locust outbreak in East Africa

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is donating US$1.02mn to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to tackle massive desert locust infestation in East Africa

On 28 January 2020, the FAO appealed to the international community for US$76mn to help stem the outbreak, mitigate the damage caused by this pest and support the families affected.

Switzerland has contributed US$1.02mn in support of this appeal and is monitoring the situation. If the crisis continues, requiring a further response, the SDC may need to mobilise additional funding in its areas of intervention.

SDC’s support comes in line with the country’s support for food security needs among communities in Somalia, Ethiopia and northern Kenya since 2013.

“In the past, we have allocated emergency funds to respond to the consequences of drought and floods in the Horn of Africa,” said Manuel Bessler, FDFA's humanitarian aid delegate.

“The locust infestation is having an equally devastating impact on the food security of local people, who can only look on helplessly as their crops are lost,” Bessler added.

Desert locust posing severe humanitarian threats in East Africa

Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya have been hit by the worst outbreak of desert locusts in decades. Several farmlands have been ravaged, threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people struggling with food insecurity. With the favourable weather conditions, the swarms are heading to Uganda and South Sudan.

Around 12mn people on the ground are facing acute food insecurity. Despite the efforts that have already been made, the insects are posing a severe humanitarian risk to a further 20mn people. The situation is being exacerbated by conflicts and climate-related events.

The funds raised from the international community will be used to support affected households, deal with the locust infestation and stop swarms from spreading. The aid must be used to re-establish food stability for families and increase their resilience. Measures have been initiated to support monitoring operations, coordinate international assistance, set up training programmes and deliver appropriate humanitarian aid to affected households, for example by transferring money, providing livestock feed, and supplying seeds and soil-related products.