New desert locust swarms expected in coming weeks
Average to above average Gu rains expected in most parts of Somalia
Preparedness necessary to minimize AWD/cholera risk in the upcoming Gu rainy season
Access constraints persist in 2020
Response to locust damage 15 times more expensive than prevention
The desert locust infestation in Somalia, like in several Horn of Africa countries, remains alarming. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the locusts are continuing to breed in the northeast of Somalia and new swarms are expected to form in coming weeks as the hoppers become immature adults, start flying and becoming voracious. In northeast Somalia, several generations of hopper bands are already present and will be laying eggs soon as the Gu’ (AprilJune) rains approach.
While the locust upsurge is rapidly developing, its current impact on food security has been limited and localised so far. In the case of agricultural areas, most crops had already been harvested or the harvests were in later stages of maturity when the locust swarms passed through, thereby limiting losses.
In pastoral areas, rangeland resources were well above average following abundant October–December seasonal rains, which has helped to offset the effects of locust damages thus far by replenishing pasture though as the dry season takes hold, pasture regeneration will diminish significantly.
Average to above average rains expected in April to June
Rainfall forecasts for the Gu’ 2020 period indicate a strong possibility of average to above-average precipitation in most parts of Somalia. These Gu’ rains are expected to maintain rangelands and support planting activities. However, they could enable a new wave of breeding and further spread of the locust pests. Pasture losses are expected in areas where swarms land, although rainfall in coming months is likely to partially continue offsetting the impact. Nonetheless, if the desert locusts continue to multiply, pasture regeneration will not be able to keep pace.
Analysis by FAO shows that the most significant food security impact will be felt by households in areas where swarms pass through and cause damage, especially those that are reliant on cropping activities and are already facing acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2+) due to existing high vulnerability and the effects of expected crop losses. On 27 February, FAO and the Somali Government released the “Desert Locust Crisis - Somalia Action Plan” which requires US$32.2 million to implement through July 2020, though the requirement is expected to rise considerably if more livelihood support is required to help farmers impacted by the pests.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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