FAO has welcomed a pledge of $1 million that will support an ongoing campaign in Eritrea to bring the numbers of desert locust there under control. The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory plant pest in the world and a small swarm covering one square kilometre can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35 000 people.
The UAE’s contribution to FAO’s desert locust response will support operations led by the government of Eritrea and being supported by FAO that aim to reduce the numbers of the pest. 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 the United Arab Emirates for its generous contribution and for recognizing the urgent need to alleviate the alarming impact of the Desert Locust upsurge," said FAO Director-General Dongyu Qu. While Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia remain the countries most affected by the ongoing upsurge of desert locust – the largest to occur in decades – the situation in Eritrea is cause for serious concern, and recent weeks have seen an increase of desert locust activity along both sides of the Red Sea.
FAO has surged locust experts and other personnel to support governments in affected countries 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 $138 million in urgent funding to assist the countries that have been impacted. So far, around $105 million has been pledged.