from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI – GERMANY has made available €2 million (R32,6 million) to tackle the worst locust infestation in decades currently destroying crops and pastureland in East African region.
Europe’s largest economy has donated the much-needed funds to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) at short notice for emergency aid measures to cope with the infestation.
This comes amid a risk of famine in the Horn of Africa region.
Swarms of desert locusts are spreading rapidly in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Eritrea following prolonged periods of drought and heavy rainfall in East Africa.
South Sudan and Uganda are also threatened.
The locusts are currently in a reproductive phase and experts fear that new and much larger swarms could develop in April.
The expected above normal seasonal showers are likely to provide favourable conditions for the development of a new generation of locust, posing challenge to prevention and control measures.
A further spread of the insects could lead to widespread famine, displacement and conflicts over the few remaining crop yields.
Even before the infestation, around 20 million people were at risk of famine due to periodic droughts and floods.
FAO estimates that financial contributions totalling US$70 million (R1 billion) will be required to deal with the locust invasion.
“The affected countries cannot tackle this infestation alone but need support from the international community,” said a spokesperson.
Somalia and Ethiopia are experiencing the heaviest locust crisis in over 25 years, and Kenya over 70 years.
– CAJ News