• East Africa is currently experiencing a desert locust outbreak of an unprecedented nature. The outbreak, which began in January 2020, is now in its second phase, with FAO projecting that this phase could be 20 times worse than the first one. Already, tens of thousands of hectares of farmland and pasture have been damaged by locusts in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda.
Given that most of these countries are heavily reliant on agricultural production, this outbreak could not only threaten the livelihoods and food security of residents, but the respective countries’ economies as well.
• The triple threat of COVID-19, floods and locusts poses a major threat to food security in East Africa. These shocks do not just have immediate, short-term effects, they exacerbate prevailing food insecurity and undermine livelihoods and development gains that took years to build.
• WFP estimates that 20 million people are food insecure in nine East African countries: Ethiopia, South Sudan,
Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Djibouti and Eritrea. WFP projects that the number of food insecure people in the region could increase to 34 million or more in the coming months due to the impact of COVID-19, locusts and flooding
• The region is now seeing the spread of swarms of desert locusts that may eat crops in many countries before the main harvest from July to September. FAO currently projects that an additional 1.5 to 2.5 million people could become severely food insecure as a result solely of locust outbreaks.
• WFP anticipates a localized impact on the harvest, though at this stage the impact is still uncertain pending on control operations, locust surveillance and other factors such as wind and weather conditions.
• The restrictions imposed by countries in the region to contain COVID-19 are creating logistical challenges to the supply of pesticides, bio-insecticides and delays in obtaining equipment for control operations
• At a regional level, WFP works through the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group to harmonize methodologies and tools for ongoing ground impact assessments, food security projection and reporting on the locust outbreak.
• WFP and FAO have worked together in a number of ways since the beginning of the locust crisis, including by supporting logistical capacity and opportunities for the triangulation of equipment. FAO has launched a regional appeal for the fight against desert locusts in the Greater Horn of Africa and Yemen amounting to US$231 million for the period January to December 2020. This appeal aims at enhancing gains made in surveillance and control efforts, especially, in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, which are the three worst affected countries in the region.
• WFP is assessing the situation closely and preparing more detailed estimates on potential locust-related requirements for our country level responses together with FAO, the World Bank and governments.
• WFP is supporting ongoing food security assessments in the affected countries which are seeking to quantify the impact the locusts are having on food production and availability. While these assessments will further inform response strategies, anticipated needs are already being incorporated within the existing Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs) in the affected countries. The support to affected communities will include a combination of relief, social protection and livelihood support interventions, in conjunction with the host Governments and FAO
• In East Africa, WFP’s existing funding requirements for the next 6 months are US$813 million. However, as the impacts of COVID-19 deepen and new swarms continue to spread, needs are expected to increase significantly.