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FAO seeks up to $70 million for desert locust control in West Africa

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Anticipatory action and rapid response

At a glance
  • USD 50–75 million required by FAO for control, surveillance and livelihoods support by December 2020
  • 17.2 million people in severe acute food insecurity (Phase 3+) during the next lean season (June–August 2020) in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, the Niger, Nigeria and Senegal (Cadre Harmonisé, March 2020)
  • 300 000–500 000 ha of land targeted for control operations
  • 10 million ha of land targeted for surveillance
  • 110 000–150 000 households targeted for livelihood support, of whom 75 000–100 000 farming households and 35 000–50 000 pastoral households

Recent forecasts by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have indicated a risk of locust invasion in West Africa from June 2020. From East Africa, some swarms could reach the eastern part of the Sahel and continue westwards from Chad to Mauritania.

Surveillance and control teams will be mobilized across the region with a focus on Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and the Niger, and extended to Senegal. Countries such as Cameroon, the Gambia and Nigeria are also on watch in the event that desert locust spreads to these highly acute food-insecure countries. Since the region could be threatened in the coming months, FAO is strongly encouraging no regret investments in preparedness and anticipatory action to control swarms and safeguard livelihoods, given already high levels of acute food insecurity. Therefore, cost estimates for preparedness, anticipatory action and rapid response have been assessed.

FAO’s Commission de lutte contre le criquet pèlerin dans la region occidentale (Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Western Region [CLCPRO]) and FAO’s subregional resilience team for West Africa and the Sahel (REOWA) are already working together with potentially aected countries for the implementation of anticipatory actions, such as training, pre-positioning of resources, initiating surveillance activities and control operations. The countries of the subregion most exposed to the threat of a locust invasion are Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, the Niger and Senegal. All of these countries are already facing the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), with a cumulative of 4 315 confirmed cases and 184 deaths (as of 11 May 2020), which presents significant further risks to food security. The latest Cadre Harmonisé analysis (March 2020) indicates that 17.2 million people are projected to face severe acute food insecurity (Phase 3 and above) during the next lean season (June–August 2020) in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, the Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.

Applying lessons from the 2003–2005 desert locust upsurge in West Africa and from the implementation of resilience programmes in the region, including its Early Warning Early Action approach, FAO is focusing on anticipatory action to avert a full blown food crisis, mainly by:
• scaling up support to governments to monitor and control the pest; and
• safeguarding livelihood interventions.

The Global Network Against Food Crises – a partnership created to identify and jointly implement durable solutions to food crises – is also engaged to support coordination and consensus building, and serves as a platform to discuss the most eective programmatic approaches. The Global Network plays a key role in supporting the uptake and mainstreaming of anticipatory action, as well as ensuring that lessons learned are used, documented and disseminated.

Preparing to curb the spread of the desert locust is the most critical and urgent component of the subregional anticipatory action and rapid response plan to fund, as the aim is to reduce the food security impact of the desert locust entering West Africa Two response scenarios are envisaged, as follows:

• In the first one, six countries could be aected – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, the Niger and Senegal – in which case 300 000 ha of land would be targeted for control operations.

• In the second scenario, an additional three countries in the Sahel – Cameroon, Nigeria and the Gambia – would require control operations, bringing the total up to 500 000 ha.