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Plagues of crop-eating locusts devastate East Africa

Tearfund | 07 Feb 2020

East Africa is facing plagues of locusts – the worst in decades, destroying vital food supplies and sources of income. Tearfund staff and partners in the region are calling on us to pray for it to not get any worse.

Ethiopia and Somalia are in the midst of the biggest invasion of the insects in 25 years – and the worst in Kenya and Uganda for 70 years. 

They have also now reached parts of South Sudan, where millions of people are already suffering from severe food shortages. The nation is also facing conflict and political instability.

The locusts haven’t yet reached areas where Tearfund works, as the land is dry and there are no crops in the fields. But there is concern there may be a rapid spike in their population and that they might spread to other locations.

The UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation is calling the swarms ‘unprecedented’ and ‘devastating’, and has made a plea for international help.

It’s believed the locusts have come across the Red Sea from Yemen and Oman. Towards the end of 2019, heavy rainfall created ideal conditions for the insects to breed.

Left with little
Tewodros Ketsela is an Emergency Officer for Tearfund in Ethiopia. He explains what’s happening: 

‘Across Ethiopia, Tearfund works with hundreds of self-help groups in rural areas whose members are mainly farmers. They grow maize, coffee, haricot beans and pigeon peas for eating and selling at the market. But these crops are being eaten by the locusts, leaving people with little food and jeopardising their income. 

‘We ask for your prayers to end this locust infestation, before it gets any worse. May God help us.’ 

The situation in Kenya is even worse, with the locusts moving from county to county, eating everything in their path.

Farming communities have been left without food and a source of income. The region is already struggling after several poor harvests due to either drought or excess rain. As such, farmers are particularly vulnerable to this new threat – anyone who is fortunate enough to have food reserves will have to use them up earlier than expected.

In a region where 11 million people are already facing food shortages, the locust invasion is compounding the crisis.


Lead photo - Commons: Iwoelbern + license


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