East Africa receives US$10m from Russian Federation to control locust invasion
Johannesburg - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Russian Federation have signed a US$10-million contribution agreement aimed at boosting efforts to control and eliminate desert locusts in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda.
The agreement was signed on Monday by FAO deputy director-general Beth Bechdol and ambassador and permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the Rome-based UN Agencies Victor Vasiliev during a virtual ceremony.
In a statement, Bechdol noted that although great progress had been made to contain the spread of this pest, it was imperative that they sustain and build on these efforts.
"This funding allocation from Russia will enable us to do so much more to curb the spread of desert locust and mitigate the impact on food security and livelihoods in the affected countries," Bechdol said.
She reassured the participants that in spite of the challenges posed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the desert locust crisis remained of highest priority for FAO.
"It is our sincere hope that other partners and donors will follow Russia's lead and help us meet the remaining gap in funding," she added.
Vasiliev said the crisis was undermining food security and rural livelihoods of people in the Greater Horn of Africa.
"The situation is worsening in South Asia and in the areas around the Red Sea. Furthermore, it is obvious the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences exacerbate the locust crisis. Just like FAO experts, we are concerned about a skyrocketing increase in locust numbers over the last six months. My country stands ready to continue further co-operation with FAO and its governing bodies to support this action track".
In Kenya, the funds will provide livelihood support to 7,000 farming families and 6,000 poultry-producing families.
In Ethiopia, the contribution will support aerial surveillance and control operations through the contracting of charter flights and helicopters and the procurement of pesticides.
In South Sudan, the funds will contribute to the scaling up of surveillance in ground control activities, while in Uganda they will help to support the livelihoods of 7,000 farming and 3,000 pastoralist households through irrigation systems, cash transfers livestock feed and others.
East Africa is experiencing its largest invasion of desert locust in decades.
In early 2020, the global desert locust crisis deteriorated as favourable climatic conditions promoted widespread breeding of the pest in East Africa, south-west Asia and the area around the Red Sea.
FAO's latest desert locust appeal is for US$311.6 million to deal with the upsurge covering the Greater Horn of Africa, Yemen, West Africa, the Sahel and south-west Asia. So far, US$192 million has been received or committed to the appeal, including the new Russian contribution. This leaves a gap of US$119.6 million.
According to FAO, if the appeal is not fully funded, control efforts could slow or cease entirely by late September/October. This could lead to the numbers of the crop-devouring pest soaring again, further endangering millions of rural livelihoods.
African News Agency