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US News Locust swarms 'risk food crisis for 13 million if not halted now'

13:50  15 february  2020
13:50  15 february  2020 Source:   news.sky.com

UN warns of 'major shock' as Africa locust outbreak spreads

  UN warns of 'major shock' as Africa locust outbreak spreads JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Uganda scrambled to respond to the arrival of the biggest locust outbreak that parts of East Africa have seen in decades, while the United Nations warned Monday that “we simply cannot afford another major shock” to an already vulnerable region. An emergency government meeting hours after the locusts were spotted inside Uganda on Sunday decided to deploy military forces to help with ground-based pesticide spraying, while two planes for aerial spraying will arrive as soon as possible, a statement said. Aerial spraying is considered the only effective control.

The swarms risk turning into a plague as they edge towards South Sudan where several million A swarm of locust floods through East Africa causing concern for a food crisis in Ethiopia. It said up to 13 million people's food security could be further threatened if the pests are not tackled imminently.

The East African region could be on the verge of a food crisis if huge swarms of locusts devouring crops and pasture are not brought under control, a top UN official has told the BBC. A massive food assistance may be required, Dominique Burgeon, director of emergencies for the UN's Food and

a group of people sitting around a fire hydrant in the grass: Locusts in Kenya © Reuters Locusts in Kenya The United Nations has warned if the locust swarms spreading across East Africa are not stopped now it could affect millions of people and cost more than $1bn (£766.5m).

In a stark warning to the world's governments, the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) said it will be vastly more cost effective to raise the $76m (£59m) needed to stop the swarms now instead of dealing with the consequences if it turns into a plague.

It said up to 13 million people's food security could be further threatened if the pests are not tackled imminently.

The desert locust swarms were first spotted in December in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia and reached Uganda on Sunday, prompting its government to deploy military forces to help with pesticide spraying.

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Billions of locusts have been swarming across the Arabian peninsula and East Africa in one of the most devastating outbreaks in decades. Swarms can eat the same amount of food as tens of thousands of people every day -- putting crop production, food security and millions of lives at risk .

Hundreds of millions of locusts are eating their way through the continent, putting crops, food security and "Today locust swarms are as big as major cities and this is getting worse by the day "That swarm in one day can eat the same amount of food as the entire population of Kenya," said Keith

It is the worst locust invasion Kenya has seen in 70 years and the worst in Somalia and Ethiopia in 25 years, with crops destroyed as the insects exploit wet conditions after unusually heavy rains.

Aerial spraying is considered the only effective control.

The desert locust is considered the world's most dangerous migratory pest, with a swarm of one square kilometre (0.38sq mile) able to consume the equivalent of crops that could feed 35,000 people for a year.

The WFP's executive director, David Beasley, said: "The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) needs US$76m to help stop the locusts.

a close up of a green plant: Uganda deployed soldiers to spray pesticides on swarms of desert locusts after they arrived on Sunday © Getty Uganda deployed soldiers to spray pesticides on swarms of desert locusts after they arrived on Sunday

"Do nothing now and WFP will need up to 15 times that amount - more than $1bn - to assist people devastated by losing crops and livelihoods.

A plague of locusts has descended on East Africa. Climate change may be to blame.

  A plague of locusts has descended on East Africa. Climate change may be to blame. Human activity has made an ocean circulation pattern misbehave—triggering a weird confluence of events that has caused the infestations.East Africa is in the midst of a crisis that sounds like something out of the Book of Exodus: A plague of locusts is spreading across the region, threatening the food supply of tens of millions. City-sized swarms of the dreaded pests are wreaking havoc as they descend on crops and pasturelands, devouring everything in a matter of hours. The scale of the locust outbreak, which now affects seven East African countries, is like nothing in recent memory.

Locust swarms contain millions of insects and can travel 150 kilometres in a day. The only way to control them at that stage is aerial pesticide spraying Rather than individual governments scrambling for insecticides, the FAO is now looking at centralising regional procurement, and, in Kenya at least

Desert locusts are one of the oldest and most destructive pests on the planet, traveling up to 93 miles and eating the equivalent of their own weight in fresh food every day. Experts predict the swarms will get worse in upcoming months and could reach sizes 400 times as large as they are right now .

"Preventing a catastrophe in East Africa is a far better investment than responding to its consequences and impact on the lives of millions across the region."

The FAO has so far raised $22m (£16.8m) out of the $76m it has appealed for to launch a large scale response to the locust infestation.

The infestation is posing an unprecedented threat to food security, according to authorities. © Getty The infestation is posing an unprecedented threat to food security, according to authorities.

Desert locust swarms are now multiplying across Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia and more have already been observed in Eritrea, Djibouti and northeastern Uganda, the regional Food Security and Nutrition Working Group warned on Friday.

Kenya is experiencing its worst locust infestation in more than 70 years © Other Kenya is experiencing its worst locust infestation in more than 70 years

"Looking forward, given favourable forecast weather conditions, swarms are expected to increase in areas already affected, as well as spread to neighbouring areas," the update said.

A plague of locusts has descended on East Africa. Climate change may be to blame.

  A plague of locusts has descended on East Africa. Climate change may be to blame. Human activity has made an ocean circulation pattern misbehave—triggering a weird confluence of events that has caused the infestations.East Africa is in the midst of a crisis that sounds like something out of the Book of Exodus: A plague of locusts is spreading across the region, threatening the food supply of tens of millions. City-sized swarms of the dreaded pests are wreaking havoc as they descend on crops and pasturelands, devouring everything in a matter of hours. The scale of the locust outbreak, which now affects seven East African countries, is like nothing in recent memory.

East Africa is in the midst of a crisis that sounds like something out of the Book of Exodus: A plague of locusts is spreading across the region, threatening the food supply of tens of millions . City-sized swarms of the dreaded pests are wreaking havoc as they descend on crops and pasturelands

Tackling large locust swarms is challenging and requires fast-acting chemical pesticides sprayed from aircraft. Ethiopia and Kenya are now spraying those chemicals. Although the pesticides break down within 1 day, villages must be warned to temporarily move their livestock.

"There is also a high risk that locusts will spread to South Sudan."

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Several million people in South Sudan are already facing hunger as the country struggles to emerge from a civil war.

The FAO also expects locusts to breed and spread in coming months as the March-April start of the long rains is forecast to encourage the locusts to breed again and spread even further.

a tree next to a body of water: Locusts in Kenya © Reuters Locusts in Kenya

This is the second warning this week, after the UN's humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said a region where 13 million people already face severe food insecurity cannot afford another jolt.

The UN warned: "We simply cannot afford another major shock."

The UK's First Citizens' Supermarket Is Giving Dignity Back To People In Food Poverty .
There’s no shame in needing to use a foodbank – except the shame we should probably feel as a country that they need to exist at all. Yet pride can stop some of the UK’s neediest people coming forward to use them, leaving them facing impossible choices and even risking malnutrition. Others feel they aren’t poor enough to accept help, even though they’re struggling.Step forward, Number Seven.

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