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Desert locust infestation linked to climate change -UN Chief

FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The infestation of Desert Locusts across vast swatches of the East African Region is one of the devastating effects of climate change that Africa has to endure, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said.

The migratory pests, which were first reported in parts of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, have also been seen in the Ugandan districts of Amudat, Nakapiripirit and Nabilatuk, presenting an unprecedented the threat to food security and livelihoods in the region. A locust swarm of one square kilometre can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation had earlier warned that Uganda and South Sudan were at high risk, as swarms moved closer to the Uganda-Kenya border in Turkana. New swarms have also been reported forming in Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen as locust infestations continue to grow on both sides of the Red Sea.

Guterres says that because the seas have become warmer, as a result of Human activity, the world is seeing more cyclones, creating a perfect breeding ground for locusts.

“Warmer seas mean more cyclones generating the perfect breeding ground for locusts”, He said, calling for more ambition for mitigation and, especially for Africa’s sake, more ambition on adaptation and financing to build the resilience of African countries and communities as they battle the locust invasion.

Guterres was addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the annual African Union Summit, a gathering of 55 African nations in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, last evening.

He emphasized that although Africa has done the least responsible for accelerated global warming, it is suffering the most devastating effects, calling on the developing countries to rise up ‘for Africa’s sake’ and control their emissions.

“I express my deep solidarity with the people and communities affected. The United Nations has issued an urgent appeal for assistance. I ask the international community to respond with speed and generosity to ensure an effective response and control the infestation while we still have the chance,”  Guterres said.

He equally commended Africa’s longstanding moral and political leadership on the climate emergency.

FAO has estimated that USD 76 million is needed to scale up efforts to control the rapid spread of this pest and FAO Director-General QU Dongyu has called for urgent action to combat the upsurge. So far, more than USD 18 million has been donated to the efforts to fight the upsurge.

The agency is already working with local and national governments and partners, supporting surveillance and control operations and initiating efforts to safeguard livelihoods and assist in the longer-term recovery and resilience of those affected.

However, according to a statement, intensive ground and aerial control operations need to be urgently scaled up to detect and reduce the locust numbers before they spread any further.



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