At a glance
- 20.2 million people facing severe acute food insecurity in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania*
- 1 million ha of land targeted for rapid locust surveillance and control in the eight countries
- 110 000 households targeted for rapid livelihoods protection in seven of the eight countries
- USD 138 million required by FAO for rapid response and anticipatory action in the eight countries from January to December 2020
Desert locusts have rapidly spread across the Greater Horn of Africa in the worst infestation in decades. Despite control efforts, eight countries in eastern Africa are now affected (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia,
South Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania).
Highly mobile and capable of completely stripping an area’s vegetation, swarming locusts can cause large-scale damage. Already, hundreds of thousands of hectares – including cropland and pasture – have been affected.
Desert locust poses an unprecedented risk to agriculture-based livelihoods and food security in an already fragile region. Over the past few years, consecutive shocks – among them poor rainfall, flooding, macroeconomic crises and armed conflict – have contributed to a significant level of vulnerability. The arrival of a pest that in a day can eat the same amount as millions of people is the latest shock. This can be especially devastating in countries already facing food security crises, where every kilogram of food produced counts towards alleviating hunger.
An estimated 20.2 million people are now facing severe acute food insecurity in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification [IPC] Phases 3 and above). With the main season coming up, the locust invasion threatens to drive this figure even higher. Every effort must be made to ensure the current upsurge does not become a fully-fledged plague.
Led by the respective governments in the region, intensive surveillance and control operations are underway but fall short of the quickly escalating needs. If desert locust swarms continue unhindered, the population could increase 400-fold by June. Scaled-up support is needed to quickly detect and reduce locust populations to avoid further spread.
Interventions are also needed to protect the livelihoods of farmers and livestock holders – ensuring they have cash to meet their immediate food needs and inputs to restart production.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has revised its regional plan to take into account emerging needs. For this, FAO urgently requires USD 138 million to support locust control, safeguard livelihoods, and enhance coordination and preparedness.