Desert locusts, Covid, flooding threaten Ethiopia’s food security


ADDIS ABABA: A new generation of desert locusts, ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as well as recurrent flooding threatened food security in Ethiopia, the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned.

The FAO, which warned the East African country’s “food security is at stake,” stressed that urgent actions are needed in order to mitigate the impact, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The new wave of desert locusts, exacerbated by economic hardships resulting from Covid-19 restrictions, and flooding will likely amplify food insecurity unless urgent action is taken, to assist the affected communities,” the FAO said in its latest situation update issued on Friday.

According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report, about 6.7 million people across seven regions in Ethiopia are expected to be highly food insecure, or worse between October and December 2020.

Alongside efforts to control desert locusts, the FAO is implementing an initiative that envisaged safeguarding productive assets and livelihoods of the affected population.

The organization is supporting over 70,000 households with agricultural inputs, cash transfers, training, and extension support.

FAO also appealed for funding from global community in order to tackle food security threats in the East African country.

“With the growing humanitarian needs, we require more funds to support additional households,” a FAO statement quoted Fatouma Seid, the FAO Representative in Ethiopia, as saying.

Since June 2019, the East African country has been suffering from the worst desert locust invasion in about 25 years, affecting major crop-producing parts of the country.

The desert locust, which is considered as the “most dangerous of the nearly one dozen species of locusts,” is a major food security peril in desert areas across 20 countries, stretching from west Africa all the way to India, covering nearly 16 million square kilometers, according to the United Nations.

As Ethiopia suffers from locust invasion, the Chinese government had last week donated batches of much-needed anti-locust materials to the East African country for the fight against the dangerous pest.

The batch of anti-locust donation by the Chinese government, among other things, include 72 tons of pesticides, 2,000 units of hand-held ULV sprayers as well as 20,000 sets of personal protective gear, it was noted.