Coronavirus slowing desert locust response in E. Africa

23Mar 2020
The Guardian
Coronavirus slowing desert locust response in E. Africa

THE coronavirus pandemic is hampering the fight against locusts in East Africa as the delivery of pesticides and equipment is delayed, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said.

By Samuel Gebre and David Herbling

As airlines ground planes and borders are closed because of the coronavirus, “the fight against an already critical desert locust outbreak is getting harder,” said Cyril Ferrand, the Eastern Africa Resilience Team Leader for the Food and Agriculture Organization.

The infestation in East Africa continues to present an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods, especially as the cropping season begins, the FAO said.

The outbreak is the worst Kenya has experienced in 70 years. It has also impacted Ethiopia, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The FAO is appealing for $153 million to help fight the locusts. So far around $107 million has been pledged or received from donors.

Economic growth in Africa is already projected to slow to 1.8% this year from 3.2% as global supply chains are disrupted and investments drop on coronavirus, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.