Since April 2012, Madagascar is facing a Migratory Malagasy Locust plague that threatens the food security of 13 million people (60 percent of the population), 9 million of whom rely on agriculture for their living. Rice, other cereal crops and pastures for livestock were at risk of considerable damage because of the locust plague, which could have had a significant negative impact on domestic supply and grain prices. In response to that plague, a Three-year emergency Programme (2013–2016) covering three consecutive anti-locust campaigns, was jointly prepared by FAO and the Ministry for Agriculture of Madagascar in December 2012.
In 2013, Belgium was one of the first donors to respond – in a timely and positive manner – through a donation of USD 500 000. At the end of January 2015, the Three-year Programme was facing a shortage of funds that could have caused a premature termination of the large-scale survey and control operations. At this critical moment, Belgium contributed an additional USD 620 000 in support of the 2014/15 anti-locust campaign through the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities, allowing FAO to extend the contract for helicopter services beyond February 2015.
This contribution was critical in avoiding a disruption of FAO locust control activities in Madagascar that would have led to a rapid deterioration of the locust situation resulting in the start of a new plague. Belgium support allowed the continuation of the essential anti-locust control operations and helped to avert such a plague. Uncontrolled Locust infestation would have had dramatic direct consequences on the livelihoods and food security of millions of Malagasy people, already weakened by flooding or drought, in a context where the poverty rate is extremely high, with more than 81 percent of the population living below USD 1.25 per day.
The financial support from Belgium, along with the funding received from other donors, contributed to halt the plague during the first campaign (2013/14) and support its decline during the second one (2014/15). Locust infestations were controlled over an area of 1.2 million ha from October 2013 to August 2014 and on 640 000 ha from September 2014 to August 2015 while protecting crops and pastures.
In order to sustain the achievements made to date and return to a locust recession situation in 2016, it will be essential to complete the Three-year Programme and to fully implement the third and last anti-locust campaign (2015/16).