Madagscar locust crisis - Response to the locust plague: three-year Programme 2013/2016

Madagscar locust crisis - Response to the locust plague: three-year Programme 2013/2016
Mar 2013

Madagascar is currently facing a locust plague that could affect the livelihoods and food and nutrition security of 13 million people. The current Malagasy Migratory Locust plague started in April 2012 and will have a dramatic impact on agricultural production and the availability of pasture resources for livestock. Rice, and other crops, are at risk of considerable damage by the locust plague, which can have a wider impact on domestic supply and cereal prices.

Madagascar is prone to frequent natural disasters that have a significant effect on the livelihoods of the most vulnerable rural populations. Since 2009, the combined effect of droughts and cyclones, as well as political instability, has worsened the living conditions of thousands of households, mainly in the southwestern part of the country where more than 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

The information available in February 2013 confirms the seriousness of the locust crisis in the southwestern and western areas of Madagascar. In the southwest, which is the core of the locust plague, cyclone Haruna, which struck Madagascar on 22 and 23 February 2013 has worsened the situation, not only causing considerable damage but also improving the locust breeding conditions for a longer period than usual. A combination of historical data, experience gained during the past decades and recent information from field assessments show that, in the absence of a locust campaign in 2012/13, at least 1.5 million hectares could be infested by locusts in two thirds of the country by September 2013.

Migratory Locust adults can multiply rapidly and form highly mobile groups and swarms. Depending on its size and density, a locust swarm can consume up to 100 000 tonnes, per day, of green vegetation, including crops. Given that the locust-affected regions account for 50 percent of the total agricultural land under rice cultivation and more than 60 percent of the total rice production, the potential damage that large mobile swarms can inflict on cropland and pastures is tremendous.

In view of the deteriorating situation, the Ministry of Agriculture of Madagascar declared, on 27 November 2012, a state of locust alert and public disaster for the whole country. In December 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture requested technical and financial assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to address the current locust plague, ensure the mobilization of funds as well as the coordination and implementation of an emergency response.

Given the magnitude and geographical scope of the locust plague, FAO estimates that a sustained three year effort comprising three successive locust campaigns (2013–2016) totalling USD 41.5 million will be required. Of this amount, USD 22.4 million is required by June 2013 to launch the first large-scale locust campaign (2013/14).

Experience in Madagascar has shown that the successful implementation of a locust campaign (from September of year 1 to May/June of the following year) requires that all funds be available for that campaign in June of year 1. It is particularly relevant to note that the 2010/11 locust campaign, implemented in response to a locust outbreak in 2010, received only 50 percent of the USD 14.5 million it required, which resulted in the need for a second campaign estimated at USD 7 million in 2011/12 – itself also only 26 percent funded.

As a consequence, uncontrolled locust populations developed and spread, and the financial resources required to address the current plague have increased. Immediate action is required to avoid a repeat of the last locust plague in Madagascar that lasted three years from 1997 to 2000 and cost the Government and the international humanitarian community USD 60 million to treat more than 4 million hectares.

The present document sets out a three-year emergency response programme to combat the locust plague.