FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

Saudi Arabia donates $1.5 million to help control desert locust in the Central Region

©FAO - Saudi Arabia donates $1.5 million to help control desert locust in the Central Region

24 November 2019, Cairo/Egypt -- Saudi Arabia has donated $1.5 million to help locust-infested countries in the region control outbreaks. 

Since February 2018, the Central Region has seen large desert locust outbreak. In just eight months, locust swarms swept across countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait (for the first time in over 20 years), Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. During the outbreak, more than 400,000 hectares were treated, costing infested countries more than $10 million. Control operations are continuing, with the outbreak also affecting countries in the Eastern Region, such as Iran, India and Pakistan.

Recently, the area affected by locust outbreaks has extended to the Horn of Africa, in Somalia (northern Somalia) and Ethiopia, where locusts bred and produced a new generation in light of favorable environmental conditions. Monitoring and control operations remained limited, especially in Yemen and Somalia. Despite intensive ground and air control operations in Ethiopia and all other efforts in the region, the number of swarms is increasing. This threatens a major outbreak in the countries of the region and leads to further crop losses to be added to the already inflicted losses in Yemen, Somalia and Ethiopia.

Out of its regional responsibility and its willingness to help the infested countries in the region, Saudi Arabia supported the efforts of these countries through the Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Central Region, the regional umbrella group that includes all the countries of the region that are affected by locusts.

FAO appreciates the Saudi donation and urges donor countries to provide further assistance as locusts are expected to continue to spread in the region in the current breeding season due to the favorable environment. It is, therefore, necessary to intervene to destroy the devastating pests before they can cause more damage to agricultural crops and affect the livelihoods of farmers and locust-prone populations.