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Issue paper

West Africa | Desert locust crisis appeal, May–December 2020

Recent forecasts by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have indicated a risk of locust invasion in West Africa from June 2020. From East Africa, some swarms could reach the eastern part of the Sahel and continue westwards from Chad to Mauritania. Surveillance and control teams will be mobilized across the region with a focus on Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and the Niger, and extended to Senegal. Countries such as Cameroon, the Gambia and Nigeria are also on watch in the event that desert locust spreads to these highly acute food-insecure countries. Since the region could be threatened in the coming months, FAO is strongly encouraging no regret investments in preparedness and anticipatory action to control swarms and safeguard livelihoods, given already high levels of acute food insecurity. Therefore, cost estimates for preparedness, anticipatory action and rapid response have been assessed.

FAO’s Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Western Region and FAO’s subregional resilience team for West Africa and the Sahel are already working together with potentially affected countries for the implementation of anticipatory actions, such as training, pre-positioning of resources, initiating surveillance activities and control operations. The countries of the subregion most exposed to the threat of a locust invasion are Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, the Niger and Senegal. All of these countries are already facing the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which presents significant further risks to food security.

Applying lessons from the 2003–2005 desert locust upsurge in West Africa and from the implementation of resilience programmes in the region, including its Early Warning Early Action approach, FAO is focusing on anticipatory action to avert a full blown food crisis, mainly by: scaling up support to governments to monitor and control the pest; and safeguarding livelihood interventions.