KAMPALA —The UN has called out for international help to fight huge swarms of desert locusts sweeping through East Africa.
“A spokesman for the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), called for aid to avert any threats to food security, livelihoods, malnutrition” reported BBC News.
BBC further reports that UN fears that the number of locusts could grow 500times bigger by June.
According to Food and Agriculture Organisations of the United Nations, there is a moderate risk of few swarms appearing anytime from adjacent areas of NW Kenya until about the end of January.
Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda has said the country is on high alert as locusts draw close to the common border with Kenya.The locusts have reached Kenya’s Samburu and Turkana areas, which are close to Uganda’s northeastern border, he added to say.
“This is an emergency, and all efforts and agencies must be on alert to play their role in a timely manner,” Rugunda said.
Calling on agencies to be alert to play their role, Rugunda instructed the agriculture ministry to submit a budget to the finance ministry to make clear the resources required to prevent the invasion.
The public was also urged to stock up food reserves as a precaution as experts have warned that an invasion of locusts would wreak havoc by destroying crops and vegetation and cause famine.
Uganda last experienced a major locust invasion 70 years ago, with immense damage. Ethiopia and Somalia have not faced an infestation on this scale for 25 years, while Kenya has not seen a locust threat this size for 70 years, the FAO said earlier this week.
“The speed of the pests’ spread and the size of the infestations are so far beyond the norm that they have stretched the capacities of local and national authorities to the limit,” the FAO said.The only option left was “aerial control” – spraying insecticide from aircraft.
“The swarms have spread from Yemen across the Red Sea. Heavy rainfall at the end of 2019 created ideal conditions for the food-devouring insects to flourish.And the problem could get worse as the year goes on. Aside from growing numbers in east Africa, locusts have also been breeding in India, Iran and Pakistan, which could turn into swarms in the spring.” reported BBC.