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Locust invasion a threat to food security in the region, IGAD says, calls for robust response

Wednesday January 15, 2020

NAIROBI (HOL) - The Eastern Africa regional bloc IGAD has warned of a threat to food security in the region in the wake of the ongoing locust invasion calling on member states pull up resources to stem the tide of the menacing swam.

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In a statement Wednesday, IGAD said the locusts were now spreading across the region damaging crops and worsening an already fragile food situation.

“IGAD calls on its Member States, the East African Community and partners to pull resources together to prevent, control and possibly eradicate the Desert Locust threat to the food security of the region”. “Prevention and control measures must be scaled up to contain further spread of the Desert Locust,” IGAD Dr Workneh Gebeyehu said.

Countries, Dr. Gebeyehu said ‘must act urgently to avoid a food security crisis in the region.’ The statement comes amid a fast spread of the locusts which emanated from southern Ethiopia last year, crossed into Somalia and now in Kenya.

The locusts have also destroyed crops and pasture across eastern Ethiopia and parts of Eritrea and Sudan.

“A further increase in locust swarms is likely to continue until about June due to the continuation of favourable ecological conditions for Locust breeding,” IGAD warned noting in the past week, numerous, large immature swarms have spread into Kenya and will likely move into the country’s bread basket in the Rift Valley.

The swam could appear in northeast Uganda, southwest South Sudan and south west Ethiopia. According to FAO, this is the worst situation in 25 years and unusual weather and climate conditions have contributed to it, including heavy and widespread rains since October 2019.

A typical desert locust swarm can contain up to 150 million locusts per square kilometer. Swarms migrate with the wind and can cover 100 to 150 kilometers in a day.

An average swarm can destroy as much food crops in a day as is sufficient to feed 2,500 people and pasture biomass

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