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Locust swarms on the move across the Sahel
Control campaign entering critical phase
13 October 2004, Rome -- Numerous locust swarms are on the move across the Sahelian countries of West Africa and the campaign to control them is entering a critical phase, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said today.

As the control campaign gathered momentum following the arrival of donor funds, reports reaching Rome spoke of numerous swarms, some of them moving northwards into southwest Libya, southern Algeria and the borders of Morocco. Others were reported in the south of Western Sahara.

"Six fixed wing aircraft are arriving this week to join the four we already have operating in the region, and they will be followed shortly by four helicopters," said Clive Elliott, Head of FAO's Locust Group. "Hundreds of thousands of litres of pesticide have been ordered, and large quantities have been delivered to protect crops in the Sahelian countries. Operations in the near future will need to switch to the northern parts of the Sahara to protect North African countries."

In the past month donor funds reaching FAO have accelerated at a remarkable rate. FAO first warned of the crisis in October 2003, and in February 2004 appealed for $9 million. By August this requirement had grown to $100 million, but by mid-September only $2 million had been received.

Following a new appeal to donors to accelerate payments, just under $20 million had been received by 12 October, to which FAO has added $6 million of its own funds. FAO has received signed agreements for a further $38 million, and negotiations are ongoing between FAO and donors for a further $9.8 million.

Donors have also made bilateral donations, with the North African countries, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria all donating or lending pesticides, survey and control teams, aircraft, fuel, vehicles and equipment to their southern neighbours. The United States has sent six aircraft.

So far this summer an estimated 875 000 hectares of infested land have been treated, bringing to 7.2 million the total area treated since the beginning of the upsurge a year ago. FAO promotes best practice methods in locust control to reduce risks to human and animal health and the environment and to avoid the creation of stocks of obsolete pesticides.

Significant damage to crops and pastures has been reported across the Sahel, and a joint team from FAO, the World Food Programme and the regional Comité permanent inter états de lutte contre la sécheresse dans le sahel (CILSS) is currently on the ground in affected countries carrying out a detailed assessment.

The donors from whom FAO has received funding so far are: Canada, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the African Development Bank, Norway, France, Italy and the UN Development Programme.

Donors who have pledged funds but not yet transferred them to FAO's account are: the European Commission, Saudi Arabia, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Islamic Development Bank, Austria, Australia, Luxembourg and the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development.


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FAO/G. Diana

An estimated 7.2 million hectares of locust-infested land has been treated since the beginning of the upsurge a year ago.

Audio

While assessing locust damage to crops, FAO is learning about food crisis management in general. Listen to FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf at a press conference in Rome (ram)

Broadcast quality 1.2 MB (mp3)

Video

Video footage of the desert locust crisis in Mauritania (1min08 - 1.57 MB) (mpg)

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Locust swarms on the move across the Sahel
Control campaign entering critical phase
13 October 2004 -- Numerous locust swarms are on the move across the Sahelian countries of West Africa and the campaign to control them is entering a critical phase, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said today.
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