Korea helps FAO to curb potential Desert Locust invasion in the Sahel, East & West Africa countries

Sep 17, 2020, 11:10 AM

16 September 2020, Dakar – A USD 1 million contribution from the Republic of Korea will support efforts undertaken by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on a “no regret” basis to help five member countries of its Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust (CLCPRO) in West Africa and the Sahel – Chad , Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso – prepare themselves and anticipate for a potential invasion of the Desert Locust from East Africa.

The contribution will strengthen the capacities of national governments, farmers and pastoralists with effective pest surveillance, forecasting, as well as early warning and early action activities. By providing equipment such as drones, vehicles, Personal Protective Equipment and cash interventions, countries will be able to promptly detect potential swarm infestations and control them before they spread across the region.

“Strengthening communities in monitoring and responding to desert locust by using new technologies and partnership will help preparing countries to mitigate the effects in case of a locust invasion,” said Coumba Sow, FAO’s Resilience Coordinator for West Africa and the Sahel. “Thanks to the Republic of Korea, we will be able to safeguard the food security and livelihoods of vulnerable families in West Africa and the Sahel. This is truly anticipating and building resilience in case of shocks.”

Protecting food security

The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world. Locust numbers increase 20 times in three months with every new generation. A swarm of 1km2 can consume the same amount of food in one day as 35, 000 people might, causing severe food shortages, pasture and fodder destruction, increase in market prices, and conflict over limited natural resources.

By providing cash-based interventions to 733 households in frontlines countries such as Chad and Niger, the project will strengthen the livelihood of vulnerable families and support their early recovery whenever the invasion may occur. In a region where many countries are already struggling to manage food insecurity caused by multidimensional crisis (climate change, conflict, socio-economic crisis, etc.) and worsened by COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to support activities that will help avert a major food crisis.

According to the projections of the latest consensual analysis of food security in the Sahel by Cadre Harmonisé, nearly 8 million people in the targeted countries may be facing severe acute food and nutrition insecurity (Phase 3 and above) during the lean season (June-August 2020). 

Preparing, detecting and responding

Since April 2020, FAO’s Commission for Controlling the Desert locust in the Western Region (CLCPRO) has been working with countries at risk in the region to coordinate a major surveillance and preparation campaign, should swarms move west. As part of FAO’s anticipatory action, national contingency and action plans have been reactivated, training sessions have been undertaken, ground and aerial operation teams are being prepositioned and equipped to frontline countries.

Through its global Desert Locust Information Service (DLIS), FAO is closely monitoring the desert locust situation, providing forecasts, early warning, regular updates and alerts. Mobilizing and strengthening surveillance and control teams across West Africa will help safeguard the livelihoods and food security of farmers and pastoralists.

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