The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned today that large populations of desert locust in Somalia have moved towards southern parts of the country while widespread hatching and hopper band formation continues. The areas most affected include Sool, Nugal, Mudug regions in Puntland and most of Galmudug.
Supported by FAO, the Somali authorities and partners are scaling up anti-locust operations, with a special focus on the central and southern areas at risk. A recent shift of winds has pushed the insects into southern Somalia, threatening a potential reinvasion in the coming weeks into northern Kenya. Most recent reports include sighting of mature locust in Southwest State as well as in Jubaland.
Strengthened control operations and capacity
"This Desert Locust upsurge in Somalia is the worst we have experienced in decades. However, since this protracted crisis started in December 2019, Somalia's capacity to respond has been strengthened thanks to concerted efforts by the Government and FAO," said Said Hussein Iid, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, Federal Government of Somalia.
"Survey and control operations, by ground and by air, have been scaled-up and are on-going," says Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO Representative in Somalia. "These resources include aircrafts, vehicles, equipment, biopesticides, insect growth regulators and staff that have been strategically been positioned in various parts of the country."
Winds, rain and hatching
Over the past weeks, winds have pushed the insects further south, and there have been very good rains over the past weeks in southern parts of Puntland as well as in Galmudug. Therefore, hatching and hopper band formation have started, and more is expected in the coming weeks in those areas as good rainfall continues.
"We knew that a seasonal shift in winds and rains would see a renewed locust activity," says Alphonse Owuor, FAO Somalia Crop Protection Officer. "This is an extremely difficult pest to manage, one that reproduces at lightning speed. The winter breeding season is ongoing and in the coming months we expect to see more desert locust populations, especially since new generations are already hatching," Alphonse Owuor adds on.
Apart from having different control measures in place to reduce the breeding and swarms, FAO Somalia and partners provide also support to the farmers in the affected areas. "We have pre-positioned and delivered supplies to food-insecure households at risk of locust invasion, including planting and replanting packages, supplementary feed and integrated cash assistance and livelihood support," says Ezana Kassa, FAO Somalia Emergency Coordinator.
The desert locust response in Somalia has received generous contributions from the** Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation**, the European Union, France, Germany, the Mastercard Foundation, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the** United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland**, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund, the United States of America, the World Bank, among others.