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Somalia govt seeks funds to address locust-invasion

Tuesday February 23, 2021
Young desert locusts that have not yet grown wings jump in the air as they are approached, as a visiting delegation from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) observes them, in the desert near Garowe, in the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somalia, Feb. 5, 2020.

The government of Somalia and the United Nations are seeking more than a billion dollars to address a climate-related crisis in the Horn of African nation as locusts continue to cause devastation in most regions of the country. 

As CGTN's Abdulaziz Billow reports, swarms of desert locusts have descended on farms in the town of Beledweyne for the third time in less than year, destroying crops and other vegetation.

Yusuf Hajji Tifow, farmer: "We use flames and smoke from burning tires to chase away the locusts. We also use empty tins to make noise but the locusts are not going anywhere. We are appealing for help, we have heard of aerial spraying being done but that service has not reached us. We lost our previous harvest¡­ we don't want to suffer again."

The situation is worse for Mohamed Abdi who lives in the same area as Yusuf. Young hoppers, unable to fly, have ravaged his entire farm, leaving him with nothing to harvest.

"There is nothing left for me to harvest, a swarm of locusts has destroyed my tomatoes, pepper and pawpaw. The locusts move occasionally but they return once there is something that they can eat on our farms," laments Mohamed Abdi Yusuf, farmer.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that poor rainfall, flooding and desert locusts are contributing to extreme food insecurity in Somalia. Up to 2.6 million people have been affected, with the situation expected to worsen mid this year. 

Adam Abdelmoula, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia: "Food insecurity is expected to worsen, driven by the effects of localized floods, below-average rainfall and a worsening desert locust infestation with an estimated 2.7 million people expected to face crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity by mid-2021."

"The 2021 HRP aims to assist 4 million people with humanitarian aid, including IDPs, refugees and returnees. The plan requires US$ 1.09 billion. A slight increase from the $ 1.01 billion requested in 2020," he adds.

Heavy rainfall is expected later in April and authorities are concerned that it will cause flooding especially in riparian areas.

Mogadishu has declared a second state of emergency, more than a year after a swarm of desert locusts first arrived in the country. Locals are now reporting sightings of new swarms further affecting the government's efforts to combat the crop eating insects.


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