More money needed in war against locusts

Desert locusts

Desert locusts

from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) THE funds needed to combat the pest crisis in East Africa have doubled to US$138 million (about R2,2 billion) in one month.

This setback comes after the locusts continue their invasion throughout eastern Africa, and more details emerge about the scale of need in affected countries.

On 20 January, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) called for $76 million (R1,1 billion) to help deal with the crisis but resources to control the outbreak have been too slow in coming.

To date, $33 million (R503 million) has been received or committed.

Since FAO launched its first appeal to help what was then three affected countries, the locust swarms have moved rapidly across Ethiopia Kenya and Somalia.

Swarms have been sighted in Djibouti, Eritrea, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania amid fears of a full invasion.

This week, it was confirmed that one swarm reached the eastern boundaries of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Humanitarian organisations lamented that the funding gaps and needs are growing too rapidly.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has estimated the cost of responding to the impact of locusts on food security alone to be at least 15 times higher than the cost of preventing the spread now.

Humanitarian organisations jointly urged donors and the international community to act more decisively.

“The math is clear, as is our moral obligation. Pay a little now, or pay a lot more later,” the organisations stated.

Millions of people are already acutely food insecure in East Africa as a result of climate shocks and conflict.

– CAJ News

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