• So far, Sh20.6 billion has been received or committed to the FAO desert locust appeal.
• Russia is the latest country to honour its commitment after signing a Sh1 billion agreement with FAO on Monday to boost the fight against desert locusts in Kenya.
The Food and Agriculture Organization had appealed for Sh33.6 billion to deal with the upsurge of desert locusts in the Horn of Africa, Yemen, West Africa, the Sahel and Southwest Asia.
So far, Sh20.6 billion has been received or committed to the appeal, leaving a gap of Sh12.8 billion.
“If the appeal is not fully funded, control efforts could slow or cease entirely by late September-October. This could lead to the numbers of the crop-devouring pest soaring again, further endangering millions of rural livelihoods."
"Vulnerable families whose livelihoods have been affected need support, while national capacities in monitoring and responding to desert locust must also continue to be strengthened,” FAO director general QU Dongyu said.
Russia is the latest country to honour its commitment after signing a Sh1 billion agreement with FAO on Monday to boost the fight against desert locusts in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and South Sudan.
The agreement was signed on Tuesday by FAO deputy director general Beth Bechdol and Russia Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the Rome-based UN Agencies Victor Vasiliev in a virtual ceremony.
Bechdol said this was a critical contribution to the survey and control efforts required in the desert locust fight.
However, she noted that although great progress has been made to contain the spread of the pest, it is important to sustain and build on the efforts made so far.
She told the participants that in spite of the challenges posed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the desert locust crisis remains the highest priority for FAO.
“This funding allocation from Russia will enable us to do much more to curb the spread of desert locust and mitigate the impact on food security and livelihoods in the affected countries. It is our sincere hope that other partners and donors will follow Russia's lead and help us meet the remaining gap in funding,” she said.
Bechdol noted that the funds from Russia will contribute to providing livelihood support to 7,000 farming and 6,000 poultry producing families in Kenya.
The amount will also support aerial surveillance and control operations through the contracting of charter flights and helicopters and the procurement of pesticides in Ethiopia.
In South Sudan, the funds will contribute to the scaling up of surveillance in ground control activities, while in Uganda, they will help to support the livelihoods of the 7,000 farming and 3,000 pastoralist households through irrigation systems, cash transfers livestock feed and others.
FAO said East Africa is experiencing its largest invasion of desert locusts in decades.
This is the most destructive migratory pest in the world and is highly mobile and ravenous eaters capable of consuming their own weight per day. Often targeting food crops and forage, even a small swarm has the capacity to consume the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people might, posing a major threat to food security and rural livelihoods.
Ambassador Vasiliev said the crisis undermines food security and rural livelihoods of people in the Horn of Africa.
“The situation is worsening in South Asia and in the areas around the Red Sea. Furthermore, it is obvious that the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences exacerbate the locust crisis. Just like FAO experts, we are concerned about the skyrocketing increase in locust numbers over the last six months."
"My country stands ready to continue further cooperation with FAO and its governing bodies to support this action track,” Vasiliev said.
Edited by R.Wamochie