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UN’s renewed call to fight major food security threat in East Africa

by Grace Kisembo

The large [African] desert locust swarms, some as wide as 60 kilometres in 2020, had not been seen in decades, threatening food security in an environment where many were still hungry, this is according to Dominique Burgeon, FAO Director of Emergencies and Resilience.

Surveillance and reaction contributed to the treatment of 1.6 million hectares of land. As a result, more than three million tons of cereals were covered, estimated at $940 million, enough to feed 21 million people a year.

“We can say that huge progress has been made, capacities of the countries have been tremendously augmented…but yet the situation is not over”, he told journalists. “We have made a huge effort, we are much better prepared, but we should not be complacent. We should not relax.”

Locusts began migrating south to northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia when the waters dried up, as experts had predicted.

“We had forecasted this in October. We had provided early warning to both countries to expect this shortly after mid-December, and that’s indeed what happened”, he said. “And since then, they have been arriving nearly every day.”

“This is a cause of concern, and this is also why it’s extremely important that the control operations…are not disrupted”, said [the FAO’s Senior Locust Forecasting Officer Keith] Cressman.

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