Resilience
Desert Locust upsurge continues to threaten food security in Horn of Africa and Yemen despite intense efforts

Desert Locust upsurge continues to threaten food security in Horn of Africa and Yemen despite intense efforts

16/12/2020

A new generation of desert locust swarms is threatening agricultural and pastoral livelihoods and the food security of millions of people in the Horn of Africa and Yemen despite intense efforts to control the pest throughout 2020, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said today.

With international support and an unprecedented large-scale response campaign coordinated by FAO, more than 1.3 million hectares of locust infestations have been treated in ten countries since January. 

Control operations have prevented the loss of an estimated 2.7 million tonnes of cereal, worth nearly $800 million, in countries already hard hit by acute food insecurity and poverty. That is enough to feed 18 million people a year.

However, favourable weather conditions and widespread seasonal rains have caused extensive breeding in eastern Ethiopia and Somalia. This was worsened by Cyclone Gati which brought flooding to northern Somalia last month allowing locust infestations to increase further in the coming months. New locust swarms are already forming and threatening to re-invade northern Kenya and breeding is also underway on both sides of the Red Sea, posing a new threat to Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan and Yemen.

"We have achieved much, but the battle against this relentless pest is not yet over," said the Director-General of FAO, QU Dongyu. "We must not waiver. Locusts keep growing day and night and risks are exacerbating food insecurity for vulnerable families across the affected region."

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