The European Commission announced today €10 million to head off one of the worst Desert Locust outbreaks in decades.
The outbreak could have devastating consequences on food security in a vulnerable country like Somalia, where 1 million people are already severely food insecure and at least 2.8 million are at risk.
The EU Ambassador to Somalia Nicolás Berlanga Martinez said, “this crisis represents a concrete threat to the food security and livelihood of millions of the Somali people. A timely and coordinated response among aid actors is critical in order to mitigate the effect of the current infestation and prevent a further deterioration of the situation. The EU remains committed to support the Government of Somalia to contain the impact of this crisis.”
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has formulated a response plan, but country interventions must be rapidly scaled-up to support national governments of the affected countries. A narrow window of opportunity exists now to contain this disastrous outbreak and protect the livelihoods of millions of vulnerable people across East Africa and beyond.
The EU response, working alongside partners in the Global Network Against Food Crises, has been swift. This partnership, which includes the EU, FAO, the World Food Programme and other stakeholders, was created to facilitate sustainable solutions to food crises across the globe.
The current widespread desert locust infestation is the worst to hit Somalia in decades and poses a greater threat to the country’s fragile food security situation.
Due to its ability to reproduce quickly, migrate long distances and devastate crops, the desert locust is considered to be the most destructive of all migratory pest species in the world. The desert locusts can travel up to 150km (93 miles) in a day consuming same amount of food as 35 000 people.
Locust swarms continue to arrive in Somalia. The so-called hopper bands have key breeding areas in this and other surrounding. It is expected that their population will continue to grow throughout this month. Hopper bands are present in the northeast near Garowe and other infestations are likely to be present in the northeast near Garowe and other infestations are likely to spread in the northwest, central and southern areas where breeding is expected to continue. Average to above average rains forecast for Somalia’s upcoming Gu rainy season create ideal conditions for locust breeding.
Population in rural areas will be most affected by the infestation, such as farmers, agro pastoralists, pastoralists and rural internally displaced persons.