KAMPALA – In a bid to boost to the Desert Locust response in Uganda, the Russian Federation has contributed Three Million US dollars ($3million) to the Government of Uganda, through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The funding will support Desert Locust control, surveillance, impact monitoring as well as livelihood support activities in the affected regions of Karamoja, Teso, Lango and Acholi.
This was announced today at a news conference at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) headquarters in Entebbe, where the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Honourable Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja gave an update on the country’s ongoing efforts to contain the desert locust outbreak. Minister Ssempijja noted that Uganda has witnessed three invasions on Desert Locusts this year; in February, April and May. However, all these were controlled by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (military) Desert Locust Control team through ground spraying and some of the splinter swarms are suspected to have flown into South Sudan.
“It is worth noting that Uganda has, within the region, conducted a more successful Desert Locust Control programme thereby averting a potential loss of over US$ 800Million arising from protection of food and cash crops in the affected areas”, he said.
Honourable Ssempijja expressed his gratitude to the Russian Federation for the financial support, which he said will go a long way to boost the current efforts and support interventions to sustain food security in Uganda.
The contribution is part of Russia’s $10 million donation to FAO, in support of operations to control and fight the Desert Locust invasion in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan.
The Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Uganda- His Excellency Alexander Polyakov said that the donation came at a crucial time, when the country is also experiencing challenging times amidst the COVID19 pandemic, but expressed optimism in the fight against desert locusts.
“Our contribution will be used for the purchase of pesticides, fuel, vehicles and sprayers, as well as for the employment and training of personnel for the pest’s elimination”, he said. “it is my strong belief that the Government of Uganda, in cooperation with the UN- and with support from Russia, will be able to put an end to this scourge and help the affected communities to get back on their feet”, he added.
While speaking at the handover ceremony, FAO’s Country Representative in Uganda- Antonio Querido thanked the Russian Federation for the timely financial support contribution that will greatly boost on-going efforts to stop the spread of the locusts and safeguard the livelihoods of farmers and their families.
“The invasion could have severe consequences for agriculture-based livelihoods and also severely threaten food and nutrition security for about 1.3 million people in Karamoja and Teso regions alone”, he said. “FAO recently renewed its commitment to addressing this crisis and will revise the appeal for Uganda to include cash assistance to 10 000 households, supplementary livestock feed for 19 000 households and comprehensive re-engagement farming packages for 22 000 households in order to protect and recover livelihoods”, he added.
FAO support to Desert Locust response in Uganda
East Africa is experiencing its worst invasion of Desert Locusts in decades and tens of thousands of hectares of cropland and pasture have been damaged in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. North-eastern Uganda is at significant risk of locust infestation that could bring severe consequences for agriculture-based livelihoods in regions where food security is already fragile like Karamoja and Teso. Therefore, FAO continues to work with the government of Uganda to strengthen the country’s response to Desert Locust invasion by providing technical advice and training, as well as purchases of assorted items required for the response, such as pesticides, protective equipment, vehicles, and livelihood support packages.
Uganda continues to be at risk as long as current significant Desert Locust presence in Kenya remains. The second stage of breeding is well underway. While ground and aerial control operations are in progress, the current rains will allow the new swarms to mostly stay in place, mature and lay eggs while a few swarms could move from Kenya to Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
Through financial support from partners; the European Union, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, MasterCard Foundation, and the Governments of Switzerland and Canada, FAO has donated the to the Government of Uganda, equipment and other paraphernalia for control operations by field personnel. These include: motorized Spray Pumps, Knapsack Spray Pumps, personal protective gear as well as vehicles and motor vehicle mounted sprayers.
So far, FAO in Uganda has mobilized USD 11million as part of FAO core resources and externally from development partners, to support interventions to curb the spread and damage of Desert Locust and to safeguard livelihoods and promote early recovery.
FAO considers its fight against the rapid spread of Desert Locusts in East Africa one of its top priorities. The UN agency has issued an emergency humanitarian appeal totaling $153.2 million for surveillance and control operations and to support farmers’ livelihoods. So far FAO has received $117.3 million in donations from national governments, foundations and other organizations but there is a shortfall of $35.9 million. These additional resources would allow FAO Uganda to expand livelihood coverage to a total of 15,000 farming and pastoralist households in affected areas.