Gates Foundation donates $10m to fight East Africa desert locust outbreak
JOHANNESBURG - The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has applauded a $10 million donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fight the upsurge of desert locusts in East Africa and called for more funding to help prevent a humanitarian crisis.
The foundation said its donation would help FAO supports governments in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia to combat locust infestation which poses a significant threat to food production and livelihoods in the region.
The outbreak is the worst to strike Ethiopia and Somalia for 25 years and the worst Kenya has experienced in 70 years.
Djibouti and Eritrea are also affected and swarms have spread to the south east of South Sudan and the northern edges of Uganda and Tanzania and as far as the south-west coast of Iran.
The upsurge is threatening people's livelihoods and food security in a region that is already seriously food insecure
FAO has raised its appeal to $138 million from the initial $76 million sought a month ago.
"The upsurge is threatening people's livelihoods and food security in a region that is already seriously food insecure," FAO director-general QU Dongyu said.
"There is no time to waste."
The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory plant pest in the world and a small swarm covering one square kilometer can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people.
Pasture and croplands have already suffered damage in East Africa and there are potentially severe consequences for the region where millions rely on agriculture and livestock rearing for survival.
- African News Agency (ANA)