In an announcement on Wednesday, 16 December 2020, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned of a new Desert Locust reinvasion in the horn of Africa. According to the international agency, swarms of Desert Locust are forming in the Horn of Africa, threatening agricultural livelihoods and the food security of millions of people.
“New locust swarms are already forming and threatening to re-invade northern Kenya and breeding is also underway on both sides of the Red Sea, posing a new threat to Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen,” the agency said in a press news release.
The agency reported that locust infestations have increased over the past month in Ethiopia and Somalia as a result of extensive breeding, favorable weather and rainfall, with populations predicted to increase further in the coming months.
The locust invasion thrived following periods of substantial rainfall that trigger blooms of vegetation across their normally arid habitats in Africa and the Middle East. Their coming can be traced to a prolonged bout of exceptionally wet weather and rare cyclones that struck eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula over in 2018.
According to a report by the Ethiopian government, desert locust infestation in July damaged 365,015 hectares of cropland, including 283,172 hectares in East and West Hararge zone of Oromia. This impacted 499,505 farmers.
The predating insects also destroyed 81,843 hectares in Oromo Special Zone, South Wollo, and North Wollo zones in Amhara region, impacting 795,774 farmers.
Although a campaign supported by FAO and partners, in which more than 1.3 million hectares of locust infestations were treated across ten countries this year was carried executed, it did not stop the invasion. Already, a recent clash between the Ethiopian government and members of Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) which escalated into Eritrea has created a measure of food insecurity in the region. Hundreds have been killed with millions displaced into neighboring Sudan.