According to a report from Reuters, East Africa is dealing with the worst locust infestation the region has seen in many years. Locusts are harming crops and livestock as governments and regions deal with pesticide shortages and civil unrest.
Rains that produced high yields last year are now to blame for the increase in pests. Cyclical weather in the Indian Ocean increased sea temperatures and produced the wettest season in five decades.
Scientists attribute the increase in climate change. Unusual weather patterns have led to swarms of locusts in the area. Cyclones increase and lift locusts to new places and warm seas mean more rain, which hatches dormant eggs.
A locust swarm can contain 40-80 million locusts. Ethiopia has been hit in its fertile Rift Valley and swarms have been reported in Kenya and Somalia. Crops have been wiped out in an area working hard to feed 19 million hungry people.
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Cyril Ferrand, FAO’s head of resilience for Eastern Africa told Reuters “The second wave is coming. As crops are planted, locusts will eat everything.” FAO is using satellite data to assess the damage. Kenya is experiencing pesticide shortages. Ethiopia has a shortage of airplanes needed for pesticide spraying and is being assisted by FAO to help spread pesticides. The parts of Somalia affected are controlled by insurgent Islamist al Shabaab groups and the FAO is worried about violence and is hesitant to bring in help.
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