East Africa: Locusts

Department for International Development written question – answered on 10th March 2020.

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Photo of Lord Boateng Lord Boateng Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to assist the Food and Agricultural Organisation's support to the areas in East Africa affected by locust swarms and breeding, in particular, assistance with early warning forecasts and alerts on the timings, scale and location of such swarm invasions and breeding.

Photo of Lord Boateng Lord Boateng Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received any requests for assistance to support aerial spraying and other control activities to counter the locust swarms affecting East Africa from the affected nations; and how they have responded to any such requests.

Photo of Lord Boateng Lord Boateng Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the locust swarms in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia on (1) food security and agricultural livelihoods in the affected areas, and (2) their own programmes in (a) those countries, and (b) the region generally.

Photo of Baroness Sugg Baroness Sugg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We are deeply concerned about the devastating locust outbreak in East Africa. It is destroying crops, livelihoods and essential food supplies. Millions of people already face food insecurity in the region and this outbreak will exacerbate this challenge. A supercomputer funded by UK aid is helping countries in East Africa to tackle devastating locust outbreaks by tracking the insects’ movements around the continent. The computer based in Kenya uses data to predict where the locusts will move to and develop early warning systems so communities can prepare.

The UK has provided £5 million to support the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Regional Emergency Appeal for the locust outbreak. UK aid is also helping to tackle this outbreak though the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, which has released £7.5 million. Our support is having an immediate impact. With UK aid backed funding, the FAO is spraying pesticides on the ground and by air to prevent further damage to crops and protect livelihoods. The Desert Locust Information System continues surveillance and provision of early warning information for affected countries. We believe that quick action now provides the best chance of halting the spread of locusts before the next breeding cycle when staple crops are in the field between March and July.

We continue to monitor the situation closely and stand ready to help further. DFID’s existing humanitarian and development programming in the region is working to address current food insecurity and poverty challenges and is ready to flex to respond to this crisis. As rising temperatures due to climate change make such events across Africa more likely, we are also helping communities adapt longer term to climate shocks.

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