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Desert Locust situation update 22 July 2021

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OVERVIEW. As a result of ongoing intensive aerial control operations, the number and size of immature swarms in northwest Somalia continues is declining. Strong winds have limited swarm movement and hamper aerial operations at times. Although no new swarms have arrived in northeast Ethiopia during the past week, good rains have fallen and some of the swarms have moved towards the western lowlands of Afar where they have matured and are likely to be ready to lay eggs. A few swarms may have reached the highlands in Amhara and eastern Tigray where they are expected to continue to the summer breeding areas in Sudan. In Yemen, one immature swarm seen earlier in the highlands moved further south where it is likely to continue to areas of recent rainfall in the interior.

WHY IT MATTERS. Effective survey and control operations in northern Somalia and eastern Ethiopia are key in reducing breeding that will occur in northeast Ethiopia from now until September. Seasonal rains have commenced in Afar and above normal rainfall is expected during the next four weeks that will allow one generation of breeding between now and September. The current swarms will complete their maturation and lay eggs that should begin to hatch in early August, giving rise to hopper bands, which could eventually lead to the formation of new immature swarms from late September onwards. The risk of swarms from Yemen arriving in Afar continues to decline.

CONTEXT. Important infestations remain in the Horn of Africa while other regions are calm.

  • SOMALIA. Aerial control operations continue against a few remaining immature swarms on the coast, escarpment and plateau in the northwest (Somaliland). Swarm movement is limited due to cooler temperatures on the plateau and strong winds.

  • ETHIOPIA. Earlier swarms along the eastern escarpment of the Amhara highlands near Kombolcha have moved eastwards to the foothills and lowlands in western Afar where some have matured and ready to lay eggs in areas of recent rainfall. Aerial operations have shifted from Semera to Kombolcha.

  • YEMEN. An immature swarm seen earlier in the highlands has moved further south to northeast of Aden; small-scale breeding is underway in parts of the interior where good rains have fallen.

  • SW ASIA. No locusts seen during recent surveys in Iran, Pakistan and India.

TAKEAWAY. Current field operations should be upscaled in northeast Ethiopia and maintained in northern Somalia, Djibouti and Yemen.

  • Central Region (SERIOUS) – increase operations in Afar and eastern Amhara (Ethiopia)

  • Eastern Region (CALM) – continue summer surveys (Indo-Pakistan)

  • Western Region (CALM) – continue summer surveys (northern Sahel)