Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The European Commission has extended 10 million euros ( 41billion Shillings) to East Africa to help in the control of the desert locusts outbreaks in the region.
The EU said in a statement that the outbreak could have devastating consequences on food security in the region where 27.5 million people suffer from severe food insecurity and at least 35 million more are at risk.
Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, stressed “This crisis shows, once again, how fragile food systems can be when facing threats.”
She added that they “also have a responsibility to step in now with resolve to avoid a major crisis, tackle the root causes of this natural disaster, and protect livelihoods and food production.”
The locusts have spread to different countries in the region including Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, and Ethiopia.
Uganda has already spent more than 20 billion Shillings in fighting the locusts. Other countries are also spending. The unplanned expenditures show the outbreak of locusts would not just devastate food but would dent public purses as countries fork out billions to control the damage.
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija said today that this is one of the unplanned expenditures that the country has to deal with. It ultimately takes resources away from other social services. In a statement this month, Bank of Uganda said desert locusts will most likely affect growth if not controlled early. For Uganda, the army has taken on the mantle to fight the locusts.
The Brussels-headquartered EU says the individual country interventions must be rapidly scaled-up to support national governments of the affected countries. The EU had already contributed €1 million (4 billion Shillings) mobilised from humanitarian funds. Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia have been devasted the most.
The Desert Locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world. Crop and food losses in affected areas can be enormous, generating direct dramatic negative impacts on agriculture and livelihoods. The situation has rapidly deteriorated over the past month in East Africa. The long rainy season which will start in March, will bring with it a new wave of breeding and further spreading in the region.
Damages to crop and pasture are already being reported across Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, the three most affected countries, but losses may quickly spread to other neighbouring countries, particularly Djibouti, Eritrea, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Yemen, Sudan, Iran, India and Pakistan are also at risk.
The FAO’s response plan estimates that around €70.3 million will be required for the most urgent activities for both Desert Locust control and agricultural livelihood protection and recovery. With today’s announcement of €10 million, a total of €29.4 million has been committed to the plan to date by the EU and international community.
The EU says the damage might quickly spread to other neighbouring countries, particularly Djibouti, Eritrea, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.