New biblical swarms of desert locusts are forming in the Horn of Africa, threatening agricultural livelihoods and the food security of millions of people.
FAO recently said in an alarming news release: “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, the Sudan, and Yemen.“
This year had already seen the worst East Africa invasion in 60+ years.
It could be as bad as what we’ve seen in the past year because the area of breeding ground in these countries is as big as 350,000 sq km (135,000 sq miles).
Although better prepared, there are fears that communities might be overwhelmed if the swarms are really big.
So, why are there so many locusts?
Locust infestations increased over the past month in Ethiopia and Somalia as a result of extensive breeding, favourable weather and rainfall, with populations predicted to increase further in the coming months.
Cyclone Gati brought two years of rainfall within two days and what could have been a hostile terrain for the locusts turned into a favourable breeding ground.
Increased surveillance in several affected regional areas have helped keep locusts away. But in regions (southern Somalia) or countries (Yemen) in conflict, there is no time to take rid of locusts.
The FAO has warned that more than 35 million people are already acutely food insecure in the five most-impacted countries.
It says that number could increase by another 3.5 million if nothing is done to control the latest outbreak.