Famine looms amid Locust plague
theatlantic.com/ Image credit: Giulia Paravicini / Reuters
Famine Looms amid Locust Plague in East Africa. This post first appeared on The Atlantic. Hundreds of millions of desert locusts are swarming in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia—some of the biggest numbers seen in more than 25 years. Unusually wet weather in the area toward the end of 2019 has contributed to the massive outbreak, driving an explosion of locusts that are destroying crops and threatening food security across the region. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is requesting international assistance to combat the swarms, and warning of the potential for massive growth if they are left unchecked.
But although the locust infestation wreaking havoc on east Africa is of biblical proportions, it is not a portent of end times, said experts at a press conference in Nairobi this month. Still, the finger-length bugs spell big trouble for the countries most affected.
It is the worst locust invasion in decades for Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. One enormous swarm, recently over north-eastern Kenya, contains nearly 200bn of the creatures and occupies a space in the sky three times the size of New York City. There are dozens of swarms in Kenya alone. And the un’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (fao) warns that the number of locusts could increase 500-fold by June when it is hoped that drier weather will check their spread.
“You can imagine that a country that has not seen such a thing in 70 years is not well prepared,” he said of Kenya, East Africa’s economic hub.
The outbreak, blamed in part on a changing climate, now threatens to spread to South Sudan and Uganda and new rains in the weeks to come will fuel fresh vegetation and a new wave of breeding. The outbreak might not be under control until June when drier weather arrives, authorities have said.
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