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OACPS takes steps to mitigate losses caused by desert locusts in East Africa

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Brussels, 28 April 2020/ACP: The Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (OACPS) is concerned by the continued presence of swarms of desert locusts, which threaten food security for at least eight Member States in East Africa.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has described this as the worst desert locust outbreak in 25 years for most of the affected States, namely Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda. Somalia in February 2020 declared a National Emergency over the infestation. The situation is expected to become even more acute during the current rainy season. According to the Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC) of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) the crisis situation is expected to continue until the end of May 2020, which coincides with the main cropping season for many countries in East Africa.

The FAO/ICPAC Food Security and Nutrition Working Group, co-chaired by FAO and ICPAC, in its Special Report on Desert Locusts reported, “Most affected areas are currently facing crisis or stressed food insecurity. Some 9.75 million people living in areas affected by desert locusts in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are currently or projected to be in a Phase 31 food crisis or worse”. This upsurge builds on several successive shocks including climate-related shocks (consecutive poor seasons characterised by extreme droughts and/or widespread flooding), conflict, and poor macroeconomic conditions. At present, the locusts are expected to breed and significantly threaten food security in Tanzania and Western Uganda, and the swarms have been steadily increasing in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. The hatching of locust eggs is now ongoing in the Sudan.

Commenting on the severity of the situation for the affected countries, OACPS Secretary General H.E. Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, said: “At this moment, the agricultural productive capacity of our Member States is already compromised by the COVID-19 Pandemic. We are working with and through partner organisations to bolster food production along the value chains, but the current locust invasion is undeniably going to have a severe impact on crops and livelihoods and aggravate an issue that was already, in some cases, problematic.”

IGAD/ICPAC in its official Communique, encouraged Member States to support ongoing efforts to eradicate the locust infestation through the aerial spraying of pesticides in order to prevent a regional and possibly continental crisis, with negative impacts on agriculture and food security.

A formal request has been sent to the African Union Commission (AUC) to provide technical support to all actors in their efforts to develop the Desert Locust Impact Assessment Methodology and Tools. This technical support will facilitate the mapping of appropriate response structures and mechanisms to address future locust infestations in the region and in the Continent. An appeal was also made to the AUC to elaborate a strategy to be applied within the continent to both anticipate and effectively curb the spread of locust infestation.

To avert a crisis situation, the Secretariat of the OACPS, within the framework of the ACP-EU Natural Disaster Risk Management Programme, is collaborating with regional partner ICPAC, the European Union (EU) and the network of international partners, to ensure that special measures are in place to help mitigate expected losses. During the next few weeks, these efforts will aim to provide support to the ongoing efforts of OACPS Members to prepare for the next surge of locusts.

1 A Phase 3 Crisis occurs where Households either: Have food consumption gaps that are reflected by high or above-usual acute malnutrition or are marginally able to meet minimum food needs but only by depleting essential livelihood assets or through crisis-coping strategies. FEWS NET https://fews.net/IPC 28/4/2020