Italy has pledged $410 000 for the ongoing campaign in East Africa aimed at controlling large infestations of the pernicious crop pest and limit damages to crops and pastures that millions of people in the region depend on. The country’s contribution to FAO’s desert locust response will support operations to control desert Eritrea. Such programs are critical to mitigating a potentially larger impact on people's ability to earn a living and provide food for their families in the future.
"I want to thank Italy for its generous support as the desert locust threatens to provoke a humanitarian crisis," said FAO-Director General Dongyu QU. Some 20 million people in East Africa already considered acutely food insecure. There, previous generation of swarms have laid eggs and new immature swarms are starting to hatch, right at the start of the region's main agricultural season. Pasture and croplands have already suffered damage, and there are potentially severe consequences for the region where millions rely on agriculture and livestock rearing for their survival.
FAO has surged locust experts and other personnel to support governments with surveillance and coordination of locust control activities and technical advice and is procuring supplies and equipment for aerial and ground operations by government control teams. FAO is also preparing action to protect rural livelihoods by providing affected growers with farming packages, veterinary care for vegetation-starved livestock, and cash for families who have lost their crops so that they can purchase food. The UN agency has appealed for $150 million in urgent funding to assist the countries that have been impacted. So far, around $107 million has been pledged.