FAO welcomes €17 million contribution from Germany to combat the impact of the Desert Locust upsurge
The Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Qu Dongyu has welcomed a €17 million contribution from Germany to provide assistance to those directly affected by the Desert Locust upsurge in sections of East Africa.
The announcement was made recently by Germany's Permanent Representative to FAO, Ulrich Seidenberger, at the organization’s headquarters in Rome.
The new pledge comes after Germany already contributed €3 million.
"I want to thank Germany for its generous contribution and for recognizing the urgent need to alleviate the alarming impact of the Desert Locust upsurge," Qu said.
"We are working to curb the locusts' spread but we also need to safeguard livelihoods and promote early recovery."
FAO's Desert Locust Information Service says it is the worst outbreak to strike Ethiopia and Somalia for 25 years and the worst infestation that Kenya has experienced in 70 years.
Djibouti and Eritrea have also been affected, and locusts have been reported in South Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.
In recent days, new swarms appeared in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Director-General says the situation was extremely alarming in East Africa, a region where 20 million people are already considered food insecure. There, the swarms have laid eggs and in a few weeks' time, these will mature, and start to eat crops - right at the start of the region's main agricultural season.
"Fighting the locusts is half the battle. The other half is helping the people affected," QU said. "Germany's support will enable FAO to provide much needed support to the farmers and their families."
The Desert Locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world. A swarm covering one square kilometer contains 40 million locusts that can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people.
According to the FAO, pasture and croplands have already suffered damage in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, and there are potentially severe consequences for the region where millions rely on agriculture and livestock rearing for their survival.
FAO has appealed for US$138 million in urgent funding to assist the countries that have been impacted.
Germany's announcement raised the amount pledged by donors to $69 million.
Of the $138 million, FAO has earmarked more than $60 million to curb the spread of the disease; over $67 million to safeguard livelihoods and promote early recovery; and close to $10 million to promote regional co-ordination and preparedness.
The FAO says that Desert Locust monitoring, forecasting and control are at the heart of its mandate.
The FAO’s Desert Locust Information Service has been in operation for nearly 50 years.