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Madagascar locust crisis
After two years of uncontrolled upsurge due to a lack of funding, a locust plague of the Malagasy Migratory Locust began in April 2012 in Madagascar in a context where food insecurity and malnutrition rate were already high. Crops (mainly rice) and pastures being under threat of major damage, the locust plague could have a significant negative impact on domestic supply and cereal’s price. Given its extension, it was estimated that the food security of 13 million people (60 percent of the Malagasy population), nine million of whom earn a living from agriculture, could be affected in the absence of large-scale locust operations.
To cope with this catastrophic situation, a Three-year emergency Programme has been prepared jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in December 2012.
Thanks to fund raising efforts from the FAO and the Government of Madagascar and the subsequent positive response from donors, all the funds required (USD 37 million) to fully implement the Three-year Programme were gathered, although some delays occurred in the funds transfer during the second campaign. Timely and adequate support has been provided which helped saving the livelihoods of the Malagasy population and thus avoiding the deterioration of an already pronounced food insecurity.
Emergency response to the locust plague
FAO, together with the national authorities, has implemented three successive campaigns to control locust populations. The first campaign (2013/14) successfully halted the plague, the second campaign (2014/15) supported the decline of the plague, while protecting crops and pastures and the third campaign (2015/16) confirmed the decline and enabled almost reaching remission.
The implementation of these campaigns required the acquisition of a number of inputs and allowed the strengthening of national capacities in locust crisis management (survey and locust control, analysis of relevant data, logistics, etc.) and monitoring of the impact of control operations on human health and environment during theoretical or on-the-job training while ensuring the coordination of all activities. In addition, a locust watch unit was established in February 2013, before the launch of the Three-year Programme, which has collected (and analysed) eco-meteorological, locust and anti-locust data over a period of more than three years that were compiled in databases; a copy of the databases was given to the Malagasy Government via the National Locust Centre while the original is kept by FAO.
Therefore, the Malagasy Government has now trained staff and equipment (transport, camping, survey, etc.) available, inputs (pesticides and biopesticides) and infrastructure (pesticide warehouse with a drum rinser/crusher) to take over and sustainably implement an effective locust preventive control strategy.
Survey and control operations
Locust populations have been controlled over 2.3 million hectares from the beginning of the spraying operations of the first campaign, in November 2013, until the end of the third and last campaign, in July 2016. The Programme was designed to also minimize the impact of locust control operations on the Malagasy ecosystem, one of the richest in the world. Consequently, when the infested areas were close to national parks or environmentally sensitive areas, control operations were carried out with biopesticides only. In parallel, a well-trained team controlling the impact of control operations on human health and the environment has monitored field staff and operations undertaken.