Horn of Africa: Locust Infestation - October 2019

Horn of Africa: Locust Infestation - October 2019

A Desert Locust infestation has been ravaging crop and pasture-land, as well as trees and other vegetation since June 2019 in parts of Afar, Amhara, Somali and Tigray regions. The swarms have produced hopper bands that have covered more than 174 square kilometers (in 56 woredas and 1085 kebeles) and are consuming approximately 8,700 metric tons of green vegetation every day...In Afar region, the Desert Locust is spreading to Gewane and Amibara woredas. Over 21,000 hectares (across 15 woredas) was aerially sprayed. (OCHA, 3 Nov 2019)

The Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) infestation in Ethiopia has deteriorated, despite ongoing ground and aerial control operations...Hoppers have fledged, and an increasing number of small immature and mature swarms have continued to devour crop and pasture fields in Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, and Somali regional states. In Amhara, some farms have registered nearly 100 percent loss of teff, a staple crop in Ethiopia. Moreover, eggs are hatching profusely and forming hopper bands in the Somali region, due to the heavy rainfall. The hopper bands recorded to date have covered more than 351 km2 and are consuming at least 1 755 000 MT of green vegetation per day...If not controlled, the Desert Locusts could continue moving within Ethiopia and invade northeast Kenya, the western lowlands and highlands of Eritrea, the Red Sea coastal plains in Eritrea, and adjacent southern coastal areas in Sudan. (FAO, 7 Nov 2019)

Despite major control and prevention operations, substantial crop losses have already occurred in the Amhara and Tigray regions of Ethiopia. The hopper bands -- young locust populations moving together -- have covered nearly 430 square kilometres and have consumed about 1.3 million metric tonnes of vegetation over a two-month period. The formation of bands is ongoing in the rangelands of the Ethiopian Somali Region; and massive new swarms will arrive from Yemen and Somalia. In Eritrea, big swarms of immature adults that migrated from Ethiopia, were identified and controlled around Shieb, Gahtielay, Wengebo and Beareze of the Northern Red Sea Coast. Moreover, the swarms of Tree Locust have been detected in Tserona, Mai-seraw, Quatit and Digsa districts of Southern Eritrea. (FAO, 16 Dec 2019)

The rains have provided favourable conditions for the further breeding of locusts, resulting in total loss of vegetable, fruit and fodder crops, including free-grazing areas. The infestation represents a real threat which could trigger human and animal starvation. The locusts' destruction has impacted Arta, Ali-Sabieh (100 per cent), and Dikhil (As Eyla and Hanle areas) regions, affecting 80 per cent of the total cultivated land. There are reports indicating that the invasion is expanding to the Tadjourah and Obock regions. (OCHA, 16 Dec 2019)

Somalia faces the worst Desert Locust outbreak in over 25 years. Desert Locust breeding is ongoing in Galmudug (Mudug), Puntland and Somaliland. An estimated 70 000 hectares of land have been infested by hoppers and breeding adults, which have already damaged crops and pasture in Ethiopia and Somalia. Over the next six months, more than 100 000 hectares of land will require direct control interventions in Somalia. (FAO, 18 Dec 2019)

The current situation remains extremely serious in the Horn of Africa where, despite control operations, an increasing number of swarms formed in eastern Ethiopia, including the Ogaden, and perhaps adjacent areas of northwest Somalia. Although some swarms moved to Eritrea and Djibouti, the majority moved south in the Ogaden and Somalia, and several large swarms reached Kenya at the end of the month. There is a risk that some swarms could possibly reach South Sudan and Uganda. (FAO, 06 Jan 2020)

The unusually heavy rains that have impacted Eastern Africa since October 2019—driven by the strongest positive Indian Ocean Dipole since 2016—have contributed to a serious and widespread desert locust outbreak, according to FAO and IGAD*. Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan have been affected, with the outbreaks in Ethiopia and Somalia the worst in 25 years, and in Kenya the worst in 75 years. There remains a risk that locusts could appear in south-east South Sudan and north-east Uganda. (OCHA, 17 Jan 2020)

The Government of Djibouti estimates that the damage caused by the Desert Locust infestations on vegetation cover (crops and pastures) have already caused a loss of around USD 5 million for the six regions of the country. (Djibouti Govt/FAO, 03 Feb 2020)

The situation remains extremely alarming in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia where widespread Desert Locust infestations and a new generation of breeding threatens food security and livelihoods in the region. The situation is less worrisome in Uganda and Tanzania. (FAO, 17 Feb 2020)

Desert locusts have rapidly spread across the Greater Horn of Africa in the worst infestation in decades. Despite control efforts, eight countries in eastern Africa are now affected (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania). (FAO, 26 Feb 2020)

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