Locusts ravage Somalia

Somalia declares a national emergency as locusts ravage the horn of Africa

According to the Food and Drug Authority (FAO), if the current situation goes uncontrolled, the situation will worsen from a 'swarm of locusts' into a 'plague of locusts.' An eventuality that the region cannot afford given the massive crop damage and hunger being experienced at the moment.  Somalia has declared the desert locust menace a national disaster. This was after the Ministry of Agriculture raised a red flag on how the invasion will adversely affect the country's food production. The desert locusts move in large swarms, consuming a lot of foliage. 

Hopefully, the national emergency declaration will attract help from international partners. The country hopes to raise $1 billion to assist 3 million people on the verge of starvation. The bigger concern now is the remnants of the passing swarms expected to wreak havoc on pasture and crops in the foreseeable future. Left behind are millions of eggs meaning trouble when they fully mature.

Somali farmers are not the only ones crying foul in the region. The rapid migration of the desert locusts has affected both sides of the Red Sea and spread across the Gulf of Aden. The swarm first originated from Yemen, then spread to Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, and Eritrea. 

Affected farmers are counting their losses as the pests viciously attack their crop yield. Known to consume the equivalent of their body weight in less than 24 hours, the locusts leave behind a trail of destruction everywhere they go. They can move as fast as 150 kilometers in less than 24 hours. Apparently, the heavy rains experienced towards the end of 2019 only made the situation worse.

Southwest of Somalia, Kenya is experiencing the worst locust invasion recorded in seven decades, based on the UN FAO data. The agency estimates that the locust numbers will increase 500 times by June if left unchecked. They predicted possible spreading into Uganda and South Sudan as likely outcomes. 

The scale of the swarm has overwhelmed all local and national authorities, leaving aerial spraying of pesticides as the only option remaining. An Ethiopian airlines passenger plane had to veer off-course after it flew right into a swarm, it eventually managed to land safely in Addis Ababa.



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Locusts ravage Somalia