Addis Ababa – The Government of Ethiopia is racing against time to control Desert Locusts as the February – May Belg season starts.
With support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Ministry of Agriculture is scaling up aerial and ground operations in Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ (SNNP) regions – Belg crop-producing areas.
“We are at a critical stage at which we need to save the next and subsequent harvests and safeguard the livelihood of the population,” said Fatouma Seid, the FAO Representative in Ethiopia
FAO’s surge support boosts operations as funding gap grows
So far, FAO Ethiopia has received $6.5 million for control operations from United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund; Office of United States Foreign Disaster Assistance; the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Central Region; and the government of Belgium.
Negotiations are ongoing with the United States Agency for International Development; European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations; Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency; and the government of Germany for an additional $10 million for control operations and livelihoods support.
FAO has made an appeal for $138 million, from the initial $76 million a month ago,to assist eight Eastern African countries, of which $50.5 million is for Ethiopia.
Appreciating the funds received so far and the ongoing negotiations with donors, Ms. Seid appealed to partners to close the funding gap.
“If we don’t act swiftly, the resource needs will continue to grow, and it will be more complicated and expensive to contain the situation.”
Swarm movements and breeding continues
Cross-border swarm movements with Kenya and breeding continues in Southern Ethiopia.
Speaking from the SNNP region where she went to monitor the control operations, Ms. Seid stated, “The teams are working tirelessly to control the locusts. However, as locusts are highly mobile, we need to quickly boost local capacities in areas where they go. Currently, we are mobilizing and training communities in SNNPR and Oromia regions and ensuring that the required resources are available to respond to the invasion.”
Concern to farmers
Awuno Menka, 60, a farmer in Dereba village in South Omo, Gamugofa Zone in the SNNP region, has experienced first-hand the disastrous effects of the locusts and is worried about the continued invasion.
“Two massive swarms landed in our area and destroyed my entire maize crop. Although they were later controlled, more swarms are coming from Kenya. I fear for the next cropping season”, he said.
Argueta Belachew, 45, said, “In the last three days alone, numerous hoppers have been hatched and are consuming green vegetation. We appeal for help in controlling them.”