Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donates $10 million to FAO

by Akeem Alao

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has received a huge sum $10 million donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Director-General of FAO, QU Dongyu, stated that the donation aimed at fighting the Desert Locust upsurge in East Africa

According to the foundation, the donation would help governments in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia to combat locust infestation.

Locust infestation is posing a significant threat to food production and livelihoods in the region.

Unfortunately, the latest locust outbreak is the worst to strike Ethiopia and Somalia for 25 years. And it is the worst infestation that Kenya has experienced in 70 years.

“I want to thank the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its generous support because the Desert Locust threatens to provoke a humanitarian crisis,” Qu said.

“I urge other donors to follow suit to protect rural livelihoods and assist farmers and their families,” he added.

According to FAO’s Desert Locust Watch, it has affected Djibouti and Eritrea. Apart from that, swarms have spread to the south east of South Sudan. Also, the northern edges of Uganda and Tanzania are endangered.

FAO has raised its appeal to $138 million, from the initial $76 million a month ago to assist the countries that have been impacted.

Qu said the situation was extremely alarming and the next few weeks would be critical for mounting an effective containment operation.

“The upsurge is threatening people’s livelihoods and food security in a region that is already seriously food insecure,” he noted.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is ready to help FAO and national governments confront the critical need for rapid control of the infestation, including aerial control of large swarms.

FAO is already helping governments and other partners with monitoring and surveillance and coordination assistance during control operations.

Meanwhile, the  UN agency is taking action to protect rural livelihoods. It is providing affected growers with packages and veterinary care for livestock. In addition, the agency will  provide cash to families who have lost their crops. This will enable them to purchase food.

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