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Briefing on revised FAO Desert Locust Appeal amid new threat to Southwest Asia and Africa’s Sahel region

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FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, and Under-Secretary General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, to announce upscale

The Desert Locust upsurge remains critical in the Greater Horn of Africa, Yemen and Southwest Asia, and could soon threaten Africa’s Sahel region.

Despite control operations, recent heavy rains have created ideal conditions for the pest’s reproduction. Young juveniles will become voracious adults in June just as farmers begin to harvest, compounding an already bleak food security situation.

Forecasts from the recently-released Global Report on Food Crises indicate that more than 25 million people will experience acute hunger in Eastern Africa in 2020, and an additional 17 million in Yemen. The COVID-19 pandemic will likely further undermine food security.

FAO rapidly supported governments in scaling up control activities in January and launched an urgent appeal in ten countries to contain the upsurge and anticipate impacts on livelihoods.

According to preliminary estimates, thanks to that campaign, some 720, 000 tonnes of cereal to have been saved so far -- by preventing the locusts’ spread and damage to many more hectares -- enough to feed five million people a year. The livelihoods of an additional 350 000 pastoral households were also saved.

In the coming months, Desert Locusts will continue breeding in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. New swarms will form in June and migrate to the Sudan through South Sudan with a risk to the Sahel in West Africa. There is also a risk to the desert along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border that are already threatened by outbreaks in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Pakistan. In Yemen, swarms are forming due to continual rains.

FAO is upwardly revising its Desert Locust appeal substantially to enable sustained action in the Greater Horn of Africa and Yemen, while launching an additional appeal for Southwest Asia and West Africa. FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, and the Under-Secretary General and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, Mark Lowcock, will brief FAO Members, regional organizations, partners, and other stakeholders on the revised appeal.