FAO Liaison Office in New York

FAO welcomes 19 million USD from USAID to fight desert locust upsurge

16/03/2020

Efforts to stop the ravenous swarms of desert locusts in East Africa have just gotten another boost, thanks to a 19 million USD contribution from the United States. After having initially pledged 9 million USD to support response efforts, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have increased their contribution by 10 million more.

The funding will support operations to control desert locusts in three of the most affected countries: Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Programs aimed at reducing the size of the infestations are critical to mitigating a potentially larger impact on people's ability to earn a living and provide food for their families in the future.

"I want to thank the United States for its generous contribution and for recognizing the urgent need to alleviate the alarming impact of the desert locust upsurge," said the Dongyu Qu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The outbreak is the worst to strike Ethiopia and Somalia in 25 years, and Kenya in 70 years. Djibouti, Eritrea and Uganda have also been affected. In East Africa, where 20 million people are already considered to be acutely food insecure, the vast majority of the population relies heavily on agriculture and livestock-rearing for their survival. Locust swarms have damaged pastures and croplands, and have laid eggs that are starting to hatch right at the beginning of the region's main agricultural season.

FAO has deployed locust experts and other personnel to support governments with surveillance and coordination and technical advice. FAO is also procuring supplies and equipment for aerial and ground operations by government control teams. In Kenya, monitoring staff are undergoing trainings, while two new airplanes for spraying activities have arrived. In Ethiopia, FAO has procured a new high-speed turboprop aircraft to boost aerial spraying, making it possible to treat up to 1500 hectares in one flight. In Somalia, bands of juvenile hopper locusts are being treated with a biopesticide made from a natural fungus, which penetrates the locust’s hard outer layer and kills the insect without the use of chemicals. FAO is also acting to protect rural livelihoods by providing affected growers with farming packages, veterinary care for vegetation-starved livestock, and cash.

FAO has appealed for 138 million USD in urgent funding to assist the countries that have been impacted by the desert locust upsurge. So far, almost 105 million has been pledged.

For more on the desert locust outbreak, visit FAO’s dedicated webpage.