The European Union has committed €15 million to the fight against desert locusts, which have devastated crops in East Africa.
It’s the worst outbreak in decades, and a new generation of locusts is now threatening the region with the potential to spread beyond the Horn of Africa and Yemen, into West Africa as well as east into India and Pakistan. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan remain at risk because of heavy spring rains that create ideal conditions for the locusts to breed and spread.
The EU funds came from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (EU DEVCO), and follow an €11 million contribution in February. An additional sixteen countries, along with the African Development Bank and other entities, have donated to support locust control and assistance.
“The battle against the Desert Locust is a long one and far from over – sustained support is critical if we are going to contain this pest threat,” said FAO director general Qu Dongyu.
Nearly a half-trillion locusts have been killed in the Horn of Africa and Yemen since January, sparing enough crops to feed seven million people. There were already 25 million food-insecure people facing hunger in East Africa before the locust crisis, the FAO said, and another z million in Yemen as the coronavirus pandemic added even more complexity to their situation.
“We cannot falter in our fight against locusts,” said Qu. “The food security situation is already dire for millions of people.”