The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, said that significant gains had been made in the fight against the desert locust upsurge in East Africa and Yemen.
He, however, said that more needs to be done to prevent a food security crisis, as the ongoing rainy season not only provides livelihoods for farmers and pastoralists but also favourable conditions for locusts to breed.
Dongyu said that as part of FAO’s accountability framework, this first quarterly desert locust upsurge progress report sets out the Organization’s immediate response so far and the livelihoods support planned for the coming months in combatting the potential food security fallout of one of the worst locust invasions seen in decades across the Greater Horn of Africa and Yemen.
Thanks to FAO and governments’ response and the generous funding of donors, around 720 000 tonnes of cereal – enough to feed five million people for a year – have been saved across Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, the Sudan, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen.
The current situation is particularly alarming given that over 42 million people will face acute food insecurity across the ten countries this year.
He said that while thousands of hectares of treated land are now relatively free from the pest, the threat remains as the first wave of swarms has reproduced and a second wave will transition from hoppers to the young adult stage in June – a critical time when many farmers in East Africa are preparing to harvest their crops.
The report is also a timely reminder that FAO’s work continues on the ground despite COVID-19 and other challenges, in order to contain the desert locust upsurge, mitigate its impacts and safeguard food security and livelihoods for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.