Desert locust plague in East Africa

Millions of people are at risk of famine because of an unprecedented outbreak of desert locusts ravaging crops in East Africa.

The locust plague in East Africa

Hundreds of millions of locusts have invaded Ethiopia, Somalia, and now Kenya. It is the most dangerous locust species for crops. Kenya is currently experiencing the worst locust invasion in 70 years. “We are so tired … from morning until evening. And they don't leave. They are in the exploitation and eat our food, the fodder of the cattle, almost until exhaustion. Even the cows cannot go out because they are afraid of them”, says Kanini Ndunda, a farmer in the region.

They can eat enough food for 35,000 people in one day

Hundreds of millions of locusts have invaded Ethiopia, Somalia, and now Kenya. Desert Locusts are the most dangerous species of locusts. A small colony of them can eat enough food for 35,000 people in one day. “We tried by all means to hunt them, but they don't want to leave. So, every morning, we wake up, we go hunting again, but … We tried, they don't move, deplores farmer Theophilus Mwendwa.”

Locusts are destroying thousands of hectares of crops and eating animal fodder, putting people at risk of starvation in a region already prone to floods and droughts. Climatic variations favored their reproduction. If no action is taken, the number of locusts could be multiplied by 500 by June. In Kenya, the equivalent of 131 football fields are already infested.

Risk of spreading in Uganda and South Sudan

"There is a risk of spreading. The countries most watched at this stage are Uganda and South Sudan. Uganda has not had to deal with a locust infestation since the 1960s. There is therefore concern about the ability of experts on the ground to deal with it without outside help. And in a country like South Sudan, 47% of the population is already food insecure”, warns Rosanne Marchesich, a member of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

To prevent their spread, the only possible solution is to spray pesticides in the air. The UN estimates that $70 million will be needed to strengthen pest control and protect livelihoods in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

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