The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) on Sunday urged rapid control measures as Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are invaded by enormous swarms of desert locusts in one of the worst infestation the three African countries have experienced in history.
“Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are being invaded by enormous swarms of desert locusts in the worst desert locust infestation in 70 years in Kenya, and in 25 years for Ethiopia and Somalia,” the UNOCHA said in a statement issued on Sunday.
The UNOCHA also said that the ongoing desert locust infestation “has destroyed hundreds of kilometers of vegetation in Ethiopia and tens of thousands of hectares of land in Somalia.”
In Kenya, some swarms are reaching the Rift Valley area, which the UNOCHA described as “one of the region’s bread baskets.”
“There is a very high risk that swarms could appear in northeastern Uganda, southeast South Sudan and southwest Ethiopia without a rapid scale-up in control measures,” the statement read.
Noting that a desert locust can travel as far as 150-km in a single day, the UNOCHA also stressed that a “desert locust is among the most dangerous migratory pests in the world.”
On Friday, the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture on Friday disclosed that the ongoing desert locust invasion has affected over 65,000 hectares of land across different parts of Ethiopia during the past few months.
The UN Central Emergency Response Fund had last week released 10 million U.S. dollars to help scale up the response to the devastating desert locust outbreak in East Africa.
The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria), which is considered as the “most dangerous of the nearly one dozen species of locusts,” is a major food security peril in desert areas across 20 countries, stretching from west Africa all the way to India, covering nearly 16 million square km, according to the UN.