EU contribution of € 8 million will boost gains in Desert Locust control
May 13, 2021, Brussels / Rome – The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, welcomed a contribution of 8 million euros from the European Union (EU ) which will allow the countries of the Horn of Africa to maintain a state of preparedness in the face of a possible resurgence of desert locusts.
The European Commission has announced the funding – from European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) operations – as another example of the EU’s sustained commitment to controlling this upsurge since its inception in 2020.
“I would like to thank the European Union and all other supporters for their generous contribution and continued assistance in the fight to control the desert locust upsurge, enabling essential livelihood safeguarding activities,” noted the Director-General. , adding that “National governments in collaboration with FAO and its partners have made major progress in controlling this pest in East Africa, but operations must continue and we cannot afford to let our guard down . “
As the upsurge continues to diminish in the Horn of Africa thanks to control operations, recent rains have allowed swarms in eastern Ethiopia and northern Somalia to mature and lay eggs. Additional breeding of the voracious pest may also occur in northern Kenya, but on a much smaller scale.
The new funding will be used to fill critical and urgent gaps in procurement, investigation and control operations in the two remaining most-at-risk countries, Ethiopia and Somalia. It will also allow a rapid response if the situation changes and the needs arise in Kenya and Sudan. This is designed to ensure the continuity of FAO’s activities in support of national governments so that the locust control force assembled in East Africa over the past year remains vigilant and ready to contain any new threats. for the livelihoods of farming communities.
ECHO’s latest contribution will also support the purchase of additional biopesticides to help support control activities beyond the second quarter of 2021.
As the record locust upsurge accelerated in East Africa last year, the European Commission was one of the first to respond to the threat, providing € 25 million from its Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO).
Additional EU contributions of € 6.1 million were provided by ECHO in 2020, including an allocation of € 5.1 million for Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.
With the support of the European Union and a number of other donors, FAO and governments have had major successes in containing the worst locust upsurge in Ethiopia and Somalia in 25 years and the worst infestation Kenya has seen in 70 years.
The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world, and a small swarm covering a square kilometer can eat the same amount of food in a day as 35,000 people.
The scourge sweep across East Africa has been extensive, but locust control operations have avoided the loss of four million tonnes of grain and 800 million liters of milk production while protecting the food security of 36 , 6 million people and avoiding $ 1.57 billion in grain and milk losses. The locust control effort in East Africa also helped to prevent further westward spread in the vulnerable Sahel region of Africa.
FAO has also helped farmers, who have suffered locust damage, with agricultural support programs, veterinary care for vegetation starved livestock, and cash transfers to families who have lost their crops so they can buy food. the food.
Desert locust monitoring, forecasting and control are at the heart of FAO’s mandate. His Desert Locust Information Service has been in business for over 50 years.