IGAD Executive Secretary Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu has called on Member States, the East African Community and partners to pull resources together to prevent, control and possibly eradicate the Desert Locust, adding that the desert locust is a threat to livelihoods in the Horn of Africa.
“IGAD calls on Member States, the East African Community and partners to pull resources together to prevent, control and possibly eradicate the Desert Locust threat to the food security of the region,” said Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, IGAD’s Executive Secretary and added, “Prevention and control measures must be scaled up to contain further spread of the Desert Locust”.
The horn of Africa and Kenya is at the moment battling with one of the worst locusts invasion in 25 years, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Early this month, FAO warned that desert locusts which had hit Ethiopia and Somalia would spread to other Eastern Africa countries including Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya and South Sudan if early and sustained measures are not taken.
A desert locust can consume roughly its own weight in fresh food per day, therefore they are known to literally wipe out vast grasslands within a blink of an eye. In some parts of Ethiopia, farmers reported that the flying pests had decimated nearly 100 per cent of their crops.
FAO confirmed that the locusts have damaged about 70,000 hectares of land in Somalia and neighboring Ethiopia, threatening food supplies in both countries and the livelihoods of farming communities
Dr. Gebeyehu has urged East African Countries to act urgently to avoid a food security crisis in the region through the aggressive targeted aerial and ground spraying and immediate upscaling of aerial control operations.
He especially appealed to governments to make use of the mass media especially Radio to disseminate and educate the public in order to aid in early detection and reporting.
“Encourage citizens to report any incidences of desert locusts,” said Dr. Gebeyehu in the statement.
Meanwhile, Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officials expressed concern the locusts could move to forest reserves. The locusts are feared to cause more harm if they attack broad-leaved trees, which could result in the death of entire forest plantations.