FAO receives additional €15 million from EU to fight Desert Locusts, impacts on food security

by Muizat Hameed

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has received a €15 million contribution from the European Union to fight the Desert Locust upsurge in East Africa as a new wave of locusts is emerging in the region.

While disclosing this on Tuesday July 7, 2020, the Director-General of FAO, QU Dongyu, stated that the European Commission had allocated funds to support the UN agency and partner countries in combatting the worst Desert Locust upsurges seen in the region in decades.

The funds came via the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (EU DEVCO). The EU made a previous contribution of €11 million to the locust appeal in February.

“I want to thank the European Union for its generous contribution and sustained support,” Qu said.

“The battle against the Desert Locust is a long one and far from over — sustained support is critical if we are going to contain this pest threat,” he added.

With FAO’s support, nearly half a trillion locusts are estimated to have been killed in the Horn of Africa and Yemen in control operations since January and one millon tonnes of crops – enough to feed nearly 7 million people – have been spared from devastation.

Despite the success of control operations spanning 500,000 hectares, heavy rains during this spring season created ideal conditions for reproduction and the potential destruction caused by the new-generation swarms could still provoke a humanitarian crisis as new swarms strike Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Yemen.

“Our friends and partners in the Horn of Africa have experienced the catastrophic consequences of this Desert Locust outbreak on livelihoods and food security, a situation that is aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic which has made intervention efforts more difficult,” said Jutta Urpilainen, the EU Commissioner for International Partnerships.

Even before the locusts, 25 million people were facing acute hunger in Eastern Africa in 2020, according to the recent Global Report on Food Crises. An additional 17 million people in Yemen were in the same situation. The COVID-19 pandemic is also threatening to further undermine food security in critical areas.

“We cannot falter in our fight against locusts,” said Qu. “The food security situation is already dire for millions of people.”

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