Resilience
East Africa's locust "air force" could be grounded as another wave of the scourge takes flight

East Africa's locust "air force" could be grounded as another wave of the scourge takes flight

20/01/2021

A locust fighting force assembled by countries in East Africa to combat an invasion of the crop-devouring pest is at risk of seeing its activities grind to a halt as funding to sustain its operations dries up, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned today.

Without additional financing for fuel, airtime, and pilot hours, the 28 anti-locust aircraft which are now patrolling the skies to spot and spray locust swarms could cease operations in March, the Organization told partners at a virtual briefing event today.

"The locust fighting machine that has been assembled in East Africa is now fully equipped and able to contain, suppress and we believe, eventually end this record-breaking upsurge," said FAO Deputy Director-General Laurent Thomas.

"Governments have built up capacity in record-time. Swarms have been massively reduced in number and in size. It would be tragic to throw these achievements away just as the nations of East Africa are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel," Thomas said, adding: "There is a real possibility they could bring this upsurge to an end this year, but they need to be able to continue doing what they are doing, without faltering."

Some $38.8 million in additional funding will be needed to allow that to happen through June, FAO informed humanitarian partners at today's briefing, urging them to help East Africa and Yemen get through the last mile of their desert locust marathon.

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