AS the East African Community (EAC) partner states are continuing to grapple with the effects of Covid-19, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has warned of a possible re-invasion of locusts in the region.
The UN specialized agency observed that widespread rains experienced in late March are expected to cause a dramatic increase in locust numbers in East Africa.
According to FAO, the current situation in the region remains extremely alarming as more swarms form and mature in northern and central Kenya, southern Ethiopia and probably in Somalia.
“This represents an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods because it coincides with the beginning of the long rains and the planting season,” cautioned the FAO on the Desert Locust situation update posted on its website recently.
The Rome-based agency further noted that although ground and aerial control operations were currently in progress, widespread rains that fell in late March will enable the new swarms to mostly stay in place, mature and lay eggs while a few swarms could move from Kenya to Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
The specialized agency warned that the eggs will hatch into hopper bands next month, and eventually form new swarms in late June and July, which coincides with the start of the harvest.
“More swarms are maturing and increasing in size in central and northern areas of Kenya with some moving westwards; egg-laying is imminent,” it forecasted.
The FAO further warned that a maturing swarm had arrived in South Sudan from Uganda a fortnight ago.
A joint statement by FAO Director General, Mr QU Dongyu, UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock and David Beasley from the World Food Programme (WFP), underpinned that locust’s invasion in the region was threatening to be a race against time.
“Millions of people are already acutely food insecure. Now they face another major hunger threat in the form of desert locusts,” observed the trio.