FAO Seeks Funding for Anti-locust Fight in Somalia

In midst of pandemic, E. Africa braces for another locust invasion

Somalilandsun: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Wednesday appealed for additional funding to enable it to scale up operations against desert locust in Somalia.

The UN agency said the international community has committed 50.4 million U.S. dollars so far to support FAO and government-led desert locust 2020 Somalia action plan, against a total requirement of 57 million dollars.

“The funds received will allow FAO and partners to sustain operations until early 2021. Nevertheless, additional funds for aerial contracts, for sprayers, vehicles and operational costs are urgently required to keep the operations going until at least June 2021,” it said in a statement.

The statement comes after a three-day mission by representatives from development partners who visited various desert locust affected areas in Somalia.

The main aim of the mission was to understand progress made so far in the fight against desert locust, engage with government counterparts and help raise awareness on upcoming needs to continue the ongoing response as well as provide additional livelihood support.

Alphonse Owuor, FAO Somalia Crop Protection Officer, said ever since control operations started, the UN food agency has been able to spray more than 110,000 hectares with biopesticides as well as insect growth regulators.

“Because of these spraying activities, we were able to preserve 193,000 metric tons of cereals and productive assets for almost 90,000 pastoral households,” Owuor said.

According to FAO, for more than a year now, the desert locust upsurge across the country has been the worst ever experienced in decades, adding that it is working with the government authorities and partners to respond to this ongoing crisis.

It said the cyclone storm which made landfall in northeast Somalia on Nov. 22 provided favorable breeding ground for locust swarms.

“Rains and winds are two of the most favorable conditions for desert locusts to multiply rapidly and spread around fast to areas where they had been under control,” said Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO Representative in Somalia.

“With these fresh rains and supported by prevailing winds, immature swarms that were present in the difficult to access highlands of Sanaag have matured and moved to Sool and Togdheer, seeking moist soils to lay their eggs,” Peterschmitt added.

FAO said with this new invasion of desert locusts, large areas of cropland and pasture are at risk of being damaged, with potentially severe consequences for agricultural, agropastoral and pastoral livelihoods in a context where food security is already fragile.

“By the second week of December, we expect numerous immature swarms to start forming. Many of these swarms will migrate further south to southern Ethiopia and southern Somalia, reaching most likely northern Kenya by mid-December. The potential scale of this migration could be substantial,” said Owuor.

Johan Heffinck, head of ECHO Somalia Office said the upsurge of desert locusts is threatening people’s livelihoods and food security in an area that is already seriously food insecure.

“Having witnessed on the ground how the various control teams fight this ongoing desert locust pest, this is really a race against time. There is no time to waste,” Heffinck added. Enditem