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Somalia steps up war against fresh locust invasion
Somali News

Somalia steps up war against fresh locust invasion

Somalia is deploying surveillance teams and specialized vehicles to prevent desert locust swarms ravaging crops and pastures, and destroying the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people, United Nations and government officials said on Monday. The worst outbreak in a generation has seen hungry swarms sweep across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya since December, destroying swathes of farm and grazing land. Now, a second-generation has spawned, just as crops are being planted for the new season, threatening the livelihoods of more than 20 million people in the Horn of Africa. Somalia’s Agriculture Minister Said Hussein Iid said despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities would do what they could to help farmers and herders at risk of losing their crops and livestock due to the locust infestation. “Even in times of coronavirus, we must not forget the massive threat that desert locusts pose to Somalia’s food security and livelihoods,” said Hussein in a statement. Locust swarms are not new to east Africa, but climate scientists say erratic weather linked to global warming has created ideal conditions for the insects to surge in numbers not seen in a quarter of a century. Somalia declared the infestation a national emergency on Feb. 2, but the war-ravaged nation has struggled to control the swarms due to insecurity, remote locations and a lack of resources. An estimated 4.5 million people in Somalia, including its breakaway regions of Somaliland and Puntland, are at risk of hunger and loss their livelihood, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Rural areas and populations will be most affected by the infestation, including riverine farmers, agropastoralists, pastoralists and those already displaced, it added.