FAO intensifies locust campaign in West Africa
International aid on the rise - still serious shortages of pesticides and aircraft
1 October 2004, Rome -- Desert locust control operations have been expanded in West Africa, but countries are still facing serious shortages of pesticides and aircraft, FAO said today.
Donor funding has significantly increased since Director-General Dr Jacques Diouf called on donors two weeks ago to respond urgently to FAO's appeal.
FAO has now $14.7 million in cash, with a further $40 million of pledged contributions. Around $12 million have been promised by donors but are awaiting confirmation. The UN agency is providing around $6 million from its own resources.
"While these funds, together with the efforts made by the countries affected, will help to step up control operations, more support is urgently needed to protect crops and pasture and extend locust control activities, in particular transport and spraying planes but also helicopters" said Clive Elliott, Senior Officer of the FAO Locust Group.
Around three to four million hectares of land are now estimated to be infested by locusts in West Africa. Nearly 500 000 hectares have been treated so far in the region this summer. Mauritania (around 1.6 million ha infested), Mali, Niger and Senegal are currently the countries most severely affected by the locust upsurge.
In the past week, several locust swarms moved into northwest Mauritania, one swarm reportedly 70 kilometres in length. Locusts also moved to the extreme south of Western Sahara and some ten swarms reached five of the Cape Verde islands. This indicates that swarms are now starting to move out of areas in the Sahel where vegetation is drying up towards Northwest Africa.
Locust hopper bands and swarms continue to develop and form in southern Mauritania, northern Senegal, Mali and Niger. Smaller infestations of hopper bands are present in northern Burkina Faso and central and eastern Chad. New swarms are expected to form in these countries in the next few days. Locally severe crop damage has been reported from affected countries.
FAO is providing assistance to Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Eritrea, the Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Sudan and Yemen. Each affected country has contributed substantially to the locust campaign.
Two aircraft have been hired to spray pesticides in Mauritania and two others for Mali. Additional survey and control aircraft will soon be provided in Chad, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.
Funds have also been provided to the countries to purchase communication equipment, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), protective clothing and vehicles. National locust and plant protection teams are monitoring control operations and are assessing the impact of the control campaigns on people and the environment. FAO has sent international experts to Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, and Senegal in support of national teams.
With two French transport aircraft, one plane made available by the World Food Programme and funded by Italy, and one commercial airline, FAO succeeded in transferring about 119 000 litres of pesticides from Algeria and Morocco to Mauritania and Senegal within three days.
FAO is purchasing pesticides that are registered in the countries concerned. Accumulation of stocks of potentially obsolete pesticides is avoided by strictly limiting purchased quantities.
Disposal of containers is ensured by providing disposal material (drum crushers, can shredders etc) to countries. Large scale testing of two bio-pesticides will take place in October, in Mauritania. If the results confirm the potential efficacy indicated in small-scale tests, the products will be included in future campaigns supported by FAO.
Donors from whom FAO has received funds are: Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Norway, France, Italy and the UN Development Programme.
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570 53105
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