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Swarm: East Africa braced for plague of locusts to hit

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Devastation: A local resident tries to scare away a swarm of desert locusts in Mathiakani, Kitui County, Kenya

Devastation: A local resident tries to scare away a swarm of desert locusts in Mathiakani, Kitui County, Kenya

Bloomberg

Devastation: A local resident tries to scare away a swarm of desert locusts in Mathiakani, Kitui County, Kenya

A second invasion of desert locusts is likely to hit East Africa within a few weeks, environmental experts warned yesterday.

The insects were currently laying eggs along their migration path through several East African nations, which would likely hatch between March and April and pose a serious threat to the coming planting season and food security, the climate prediction and application centre (ICPAC) of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa said.

Swarms of millions of desert locusts have invaded East Africa in recent weeks, destroying crops and pasture in a region where many already lack food due to droughts and war, experts say.

With the region's most important planting and harvesting season about to begin between March and May, a second locust invasion could have devastating consequences, according to ICPAC.

The outbreak - the worst in 25 years - has affected Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan and more recently Uganda and Tanzania.

The poverty-stricken and conflict-torn country of South Sudan, where 6 million people already suffer food shortages, could be next in line, ICPAC warned.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), locust infestations continue to increase in size along both sides of the Red Sea and are moving into adjacent areas.

A square-kilometre locust swarm can consume the equivalent of food for 35,000 people in one day, according to UN figures.

Bloomberg

Irish Independent