More Funding Needed to Combat Locust Swarms ‘Unprecedented in Modern Times’

Content provided by APO Group. CNBC Africa provides content from APO Group as a service to its readers, but does not edit the articles it publishes. CNBC Africa is not responsible for the content provided by APO Group.

Along with climate shocks, conflict and acute food insecurity, the East Africa region now faces a hunger threat from desert locusts, top UN relief officials warned on Tuesday, saying action now, will avert a major food crisis later. 

The locust upsurge is “a graphic and shocking reminder” of the region’s vulnerability, said a joint statement from Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); Mark Lowcock, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator; and David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP).

“This is a scourge of biblical proportions”, the statement read. “Yet as ancient as this scourge is, its scale today is unprecedented in modern times”.

Growing plague

Although the UN agriculture agency sounded the alarm in January, calling for financial assistance to control the outbreak, resources have been too slow in coming.

Since FAO launched its first appeal to help what was at the time three affected countries, the locust swarms have moved rapidly across vast distances and as of 12 February, have been sighted in Djibouti, Eritrea, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.

Each day, more countries are affected.

Last week, a swarm crossed into South Sudan, one of Africa’s most food-insecure and fragile countries. And just this week, one swarm reached the eastern boundaries of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – a country that has not seen a locust incursion since 1944.

The potential impact of locusts on a country that is still grappling with complex conflict, displacement, Ebola and measles outbreaks and food insecurity would be devastating.

Cost to combat swells

As the locusts continue their invasion throughout eastern Africa, and more details emerge on the scale of need in affected areas, the cost of action has shot up to $138 million to support Governments in controlling the ravaging pests, especially over the next four months.

The money would fund activities to combat the locusts before new swarms emerge, provide help for people whose crops or pastures are already affected and protect families and their livelihoods.

Act now to avert food crisis

Desert locusts have a reproduction cycle of three months.

In just a few weeks, as crops begin to sprout, the next generation of locusts will take wing in a renewed frenzy of destructive swarm activity, threatening to devastate East Africa’s most important crop of the year. Today, mature swarms are laying eggs within vast areas of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, many of which are already hatching.

“But that doesn’t have to happen”, the UN leaders said. “The window of opportunity is still open. The time to act is now”.

They maintained that action to control and contain the locusts before the new swarms take flight and farmers crops first break soil is “critical”.

At the same time, FAO needs additional resources to immediately begin boosting the resilience of affected communities so they can better withstand some inevitable shocks.

“Acting now to avert a food crisis is a more humane, effective and cost-efficient approach than responding to the aftermath of disaster”, the statement underscored.

They welcomed the $33 million international donor response that has been received or committed.

“But the funding gaps are clear, and needs are growing too rapidly”, they flagged. “We need to do more”.

WFP has estimated the cost of responding to the impact of locusts on food security alone to be at least 15 times higher than the cost of preventing the spread now.

It is time for the international community to act more decisively.

“The math is clear, as is our moral obligation”, concluded the statement. “Pay a little now or pay a lot more later”.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN News.Media filesDownload logo

Related Content

How COVID-19 impacts Nigeria’s non-oil exports

Year-on-year growth in Nigeria’s non-oil sector was slower by 0.93 percentage points in the first quarter of the year, that’s according to recent data from the National Bureau of Statistics. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to stifle international trade, Akin Laoye, Executive Director at FTN Cocoa Processors joins CNBC Africa to discuss how this pandemic is affecting dynamics for Nigeria's non-oil exports.

Africa’s best brands, ranked

The Brand Africa 100, Africa’s best brands report celebrated its 10th year of its global launch and continues to shine a light on Africa’s brand value conscious. Over the past 10 years the report has shown that only 20 per cent of the brands that Africans value, are made in Africa, this is a challenge to African business people and entrepreneurs to create and aspire to fully embrace proudly African produce. Joining CNBC Africa for this discussion are Thebe Ikalafeng, Founder and Chairperson of Brand Africa, Geoffrey Odundo, CEO of the Nairobi Stock Exchange and Karin Du Chenne, Chief Growth Officer at Kantar.

COVID-19: How will employee salaries be impacted in the months to come?

The BankservAfrica Take-home Pay Index has shown that wage numbers were up in April as the majority of employees continued to receive their monthly incomes. However, casual and weekly workers were most impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown as the number of wages paid declined significantly. Joining CNBC Africa for more is Mike Schüssler, Chief Economist at economists.co.za.

This African fintech is helping Zimbabweans in SA send groceries home during Covid-19 lock-down

African based Fintech group Mukuru has launched a service for foreign nationals working in South Africa to send basic food essentials to their family in Zimbabwe. The service has enabled Zimbabwean workers in South Africa to extend a helping hand top those who wish to continue to care and provide for their families during the Covid-19 lock-down in Zimbabwe. Joining CNBC Africa for more is Andy Jury, CEO of Mukuru Groceries.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC AFRICA delivered to your inbox

More from CNBC Africa

Rwandan entrepreneurs treated to Covid-19 business survival boot camp

Access to Finance Rwanda in partnership with the African Management institute, the Private Sector Federation and others, has launched a new webinar series dubbed, ‘The Business Survival Bootcamp’, through their website, SME Response Clinic. The program is designed to help entrepreneurs navigate the unique challenges that have presented themselves as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and is slated to begin next week. Head of Programs at AFR, Jean Bosco Iyacu joins CNBC Africa for more.

How can Africa’s private equity firms weather the COVID-19 storm?

East Africa's share of private equity transactions has slowly been rising over the years, but this growth momentum has now been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. What will it take for private equity firms in the region to weather the Covid-19 storm and bounce back? David Owino, Managing Partner at Ascent Capital joins CNBC Africa for more.

RDO’s Mugwaneza on the need to invest in post-harvest agriculture technology

Rwanda’s agriculture sector employs 80 per cent of the population and contributes 33 per cent to her GDP growth. Now, with Covid-19, many farmers have incurred losses due to difficulties in the market and agriculture players have reiterated the need for investing in post-harvest agriculture technologies. Diana Mugwaneza, Programs Officer at Rwanda Development Organization, joins CNBC Africa for more.

PMA: CBN to roll over T-bills worth N59.4bn

The Central Bank is expected to roll over maturing treasury bills worth 60 billion naira in today’s Primary Market Auction. Gbemisola Bello-Aromire, Fixed Income Dealer joins CNBC Africa to discuss sentiments in Nigeria’s fixed income and FX markets....

Trending Now

Why A V-Shaped Recovery Is Unlikely: Mark Zandi

Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi says investors are too optimistic about a quick economic rebound from the coronavirus pandemic. He explains what policymakers should do to boost the recovery and discusses longer-term changes in the econ

Abel Sithole appointed as CEO of South Africa’s PIC

On Wednesday, South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced the appointment of Abel Sithole as the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and Executive Director on the Board of Directors.

91-year-old business titan’s mission to raise R108mn to feed the hungry

The old saying, “Age ain’t nothing but a number” has never been more true for 91-year-old business veteran Solly Krok. The entrepreneur who built the Gold Reef City casino, South Africa’s only Apartheid Museum and events facility Summer Place is not done yet. His latest business venture involves putting his legs to the test. Solly plans to walk 91 km to raise over a million rand to fund hunger and food security in South Africa, made worse by Covid-19.

Kenyan government under fire over coronavirus quarantine centres

Kenya’s government is facing growing criticism over quarantine centres it set up to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with witnesses saying some are squalid and expose residents to the risk of catching COVID-19.
- Advertisement -