Massive Hunger Looms After Locust Outbreak in East Africa

locust Swarms invade East Africa.

THE World Bank is providing flexible financing and technical support to countries affected by the desert locust outbreak, the worst in decades, destroying pastures and plated crops in the Horn of Africa.

The WB says conservative estimates for the locust-induced asset damages and related crop and livestock production losses at nearly US$8.5billion for countries in the wider East Africa region, Djibouti and Yemen.

“The World Bank is moving quickly to provide flexible financing and technical support to countries affected by the outbreak. The priority is helping affected households to meet their immediate food needs and to safeguard their physical and human capital assets via cash transfers and other social protection measures,” the WB said.

The Bank has already disbursed US$13.7 million to Kenya in emergency funding to finance locust surveillance and control measures.

In addition, emergency financing will be provided to help affected communities in Djibouti control and cope with the locust plague, the WB said.

“Follow up actions will focus on rehabilitating food production and livelihood systems to get communities back on their feet, while strengthening national surveillance and early warning systems to mitigate the threat of future outbreaks.”

A small swarm can be made up of 80 million locusts and can consume the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people, while a large swarm can eat up to 1.8 million metric tons of green vegetation, equivalent to food enough to feed 81 million people.

Locusts breed very fast and— a single female locust can lay egg pods containing anywhere from 80-150 eggs. Locusts do not attack people or animals.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says these swarms represent the worst infestation in 25 years in Ethiopia and Somalia, in 26 years in India, and the worst in 70 years in Kenya. The crisis has affected 23 countries to date, from Pakistan to Tanzania.