FAO leases aircraft and procures equipment to boost desert locust control operations in Ethiopia

FAO leases aircraft and procures equipment to boost desert locust control operations in Ethiopia

11/03/2020

With funding support from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UN CERF) the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (UK DFID), MasterCard, the European Commission’s Directorate General International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has leased two aircraft and two helicopters to scale up the aerial desert locust control operations in Ethiopia. In addition, the Organization is in the process of leasing one aircraft and one helicopter.

Speaking at the handover ceremony of the first single-engine, turboprop aircraft that arrived in the country on 06 March 2020, Dr. Kaba Urgessa the State Minister of Agriculture appreciated the support from FAO, saying "the government was using five aircraft but they are not enough. With the additional aircraft we will be able to expand our operations and cover a larger area." Unlike ground spraying, aerial spraying can treat large areas quickly, even in areas that cannot be accessed by wheeled vehicles. It is the most economical method for timely pesticide application and is advantageous when weather conditions are suitable for short intervals. The turboprop aircraft can fly for over four hours at a speed of 180-200 km per hour. They can carry 1 500 litres of pesticides, allowing them to treat up to 1 500 hectares in one flight.

With funding from several donors, FAO is also procuring spray and survey equipment, protective gear, pesticides, fuel, vehicles, and motorcycles. The Organization is also supporting the government to train scouts, who conduct the ground spraying and surveillance. Particularly in areas that are being sprayed with pesticides, FAO is supporting efforts to mobilize and educate communities about the date, time and location of the control operations so that they can move their livestock, beehives and families to safety. To safeguard livelihoods and promote early recovery of the affected communities, FAO will provide farmers and pastoralists with livestock feed, agricultural inputs and cash transfers.

Noting that cross-border movements of locusts have been recorded in adjacent areas of Somalia and Kenya, Dr. Urgessa said “it is critical to coordinate the control interventions among the affected countries."

Ms. Fatouma Seid, the FAO Representative in Ethiopia, said the Organization has designated the Desert Locust crisis as one of its highest corporate priorities and is moving swiftly to support the government. “Total eradication will not be possible. But if we scale up the control operations, we can limit the damage to crops and vegetation and prevent a food crisis”, she said.

Besides internal resources, FAO Ethiopia has received funding to scale up desert locust operations in Ethiopia from the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; DEVCO; European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations; MasterCard; Office of United States Foreign Disaster Assistance; Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency; UN CERF; UK DFID; and USAID. Others are the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (funding through the Central Region Desert Locust Control Commission) and the governments of Belgium and Germany. Negotiations are in advanced stages with other donors for additional funding.