The EU has mobilised a further €15 million to support the United Nations and partner countries in the fight against one of the worst desert locust outbreaks seen in East Africa in decades.
The desert locust outbreak has had a devastating impact on food security in an already vulnerable region. Efforts to halt the spread of the locust infestation have been further strained due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is why the EU is increasing its support to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) response plan and will support broader EU development cooperation and humanitarian assistance in the region.
Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “Our friends and partners in the Horn of Africa have experienced the catastrophic consequences of this desert locust outbreak on livelihoods and food security, a situation that is aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic which has made intervention efforts more difficult. Earlier this year we demonstrated the need to react quickly to combat the outbreak. Today’s decision to increase our support shows we are determined to continue our action to tackle food insecurity as a founding member of the Global Network Against Food Crises.”
The decision coincided with an Informal Ministerial on the Horn of Africa hosted by Finland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Pekka Haavisto, and attended by Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen; African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smaїl Chergui; UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary A. DiCarlo and IGAD Executive Secretary Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu.
The FAO has formulated a response plan, but given the continued desert locust crisis, country interventions must be scaled up to support national governments of the affected countries. The EU, together with partners in the region, is committed to containing this outbreak, anticipating its impacts on food and nutrition security and protecting the livelihoods of millions of vulnerable people across Eastern Africa and beyond.
The EU’s €15 million contribution announced today comes in addition to €42 million mobilised in early 2020 for a broad humanitarian-development approach in the region.
The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world. Crop and food losses in affected areas can be enormous, generating direct dramatic negative impacts on agriculture and livelihoods. Local food markets can also be affected, as food availability declines, impacting on an already vulnerable population through spikes to food prices.
The situation in East Africa has rapidly deteriorated, where 27.5 million people suffer from severe food insecurity and at least 35 million more are at risk. Weather conditions have been unusually conducive to the breeding and further spreading of locusts. Damage to crop and pasture have been devastating across Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and the outbreak may spread to neighbouring countries, particularly Djibouti, Eritrea, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Yemen, Sudan, Iran, India and Pakistan are also at risk.
The FAO’s response plan estimates that around €206 million will be required for the most urgent activities for both desert locust control and agricultural livelihood protection and recovery.