Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | African Development Bank has approved USD 1.5 million emergency relief grant to assist nine countries in the East and The Horn of Africa on the control of swarms of desert locusts that are threatening livelihoods and food security.
The proposed assistance will be channelled to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which has been mandated to mobilize resources on behalf of the African Union. The nine beneficiary countries are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.
The funds will be used to control the spread of the current locust invasion, prevent potential next-generation swarms and to conduct an impact assessment and monitoring to enhance preparedness and awareness. A portion of the funds would also be allocated to administrative costs.
Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia have been particularly hard hit by the outbreak and widespread breeding of locusts that is expected to create new swarms in the coming weeks. 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.
At least 18 of 47 Kenyan counties are affected with more than 70,000 hectares of crops under infestation according to recent FAO reports. Locust swarms are devastating pastureland, maize, cowpeas, beans and other crops despite the government’s efforts to curb the outbreak. Swarms are reportedly also threatening Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Sudan and Eritrea.
In Ethiopia, the locusts have devastated more than 30,000 hectares of crops, including coffee and tea that account for about 30 per cent of the nation’s exports. Despite the government’s interventions, swarms and breeding have been reported in large parts of the country.
In Djibouti, over 80 per cent of 1,700 agro-pastoral farms located in 23 production zones are affected by desert locust infestations.
Efforts to control the infestations will require around USD 147 million, of which USD 75 million has been provided by governments, donors and UN agencies including FAO and the World Food Program (WFP). However, a significant funding shortfall remains.