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Desert Locust Upsurge Threatens East Africa, Southwest Asia

May 24, 2020 (EIRNS)—The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports in its May 21 locust update that the situation for East Africa is “extremely alarming,” with Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia facing an “unprecedented threat” to food security and livelihoods as a result of locust plague. As was previously warned, new swarms from current breeding will form and begin to move in mid-June, at exactly the same time as the harvest begins. It is feared that the swarms will then sweep towards the Indo-Pakistan border, as well as towards Sudan and into West Africa, although West Africa is not expected to be severely impacted. An “upsurge” is just below the level of a “plague,” in terms of the size of the swarm.

The numbers translate to trillions of locusts, in swarms that are miles wide, descending on the entirety of East Africa; it is expected to be 20 times worse than the first swarms earlier in 2020.

The Guardian reports,

“Hellen Adoa, a minister at Uganda’s agriculture department, said: ‘This is very active, destructive and we are worried it has come at the time of lockdown. We are a bit overwhelmed.... The moment they arrive in a place the first thing they do is to eat anything green. They have destroyed some fields of crops and vegetation.

“Kenyan officials have said coronavirus crackdowns have slowed efforts to fight the infestation, as crossing borders has become harder and pesticide deliveries are held up Aerial spraying is the only effective means of controlling locusts.”

In Kenya, hopper bands have been detected in the northeast, while mature swarms are active in South Sudan to the White Nile, and in Uganda. If rains come in May and June, it creates optimum breeding conditions, with swarms expected in Kenya and Ethiopia. Control operations are underway, but totally inadequate.

in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen is seeing widespread breeding and hopper bands forming, but there are no survey or control operations underway. There are active control operations in Saudi Arabia and Oman, which are experiencing both immature and mature adult groups.

Southwest Asia reports that spring breeding is underway, and control operations are being conducted against hopper groups and bands, but the expected rains in May and June will increase the breeding, creating new swarms in mid-July.

So, overall there are two main swarms—one concentrated in the Horn of Africa, and the other in the Indo-Pakistani border region, with a smaller one on the Arabian Peninsula. The FAO is forecasting that with the expected increase in breeding, the swarm in the Horn of Africa will split, with one branch moving southward towards Uganda and Tanzania, and another branch towards the east; the portion that moves toward the east will migrate across the Arabian Sea, and merge with the two other swarms on the Arabian Peninsula and in the Indo-Pakistan region. When they merge, they will become a plague, and continue to move in an easterly direction

Another spokesman from Uganda warned that people are filled with despair, having endured flooding and the previous swarm; the economy is devastated; crops could be wiped out, and while they’re hopeful to receive food aid from various agencies and the World Food Program, if it doesn’t come in time, the people will die of starvation.

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