Massive cross-border campaign needed to combat locust upsurge in East Africa

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Country: Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kenya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Yemen

"This ... situation ... threatens the food security of the entire subregion. FAO is activating fast-track mechanisms that will allow us to move swiftly to support governments in mounting a collective campaign to deal with this crisis."
Desert Locust swarms in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia - already unprecedented in their size and destructive potential - could swell exponentially and spill over into more countries in East Africa if efforts to deal with the voracious pest are not massively scaled up across the region, FAO warned today.

"This has become a situation of international dimensions that threatens the food security of the entire subregion. FAO is activating fast-track mechanisms that will allow us to move swiftly to support governments in mounting a collective campaign to deal with this crisis," said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu.

"Authorities in the region have already jump-started control activities, but in view of the scale and urgency of the threat, additional financial backing from the international donor community is needed so they can access the tools and resources required to get the job done," Qu said. "FAO stands ready to leverage our expertise and facilitate a coordinated regional response," he added.

Potential for exponential expansion

Recent weather in East Africa has created conditions that favour rapid locust reproduction. Left unchecked, the numbers of crop-devouring insects there could grow 500 times by June. Such swarms - potentially containing hundreds of millions of individual Desert Locusts -- can move 150 kilometres a day, devastating rural livelihoods in their relentless drive to eat and reproduce. A Desert Locust devours its own weight in food per day - about two grams.

Swarms continue to pour into Kenya from Ethiopia and Somalia and are rapidly spreading to the centre of the country. In Ethiopia, the insects are moving steadily south towards the Rift Valley, the country's breadbasket. Ethiopia and Somalia have not seen Desert Locust swarms of this scale in 25 years, while Kenya has not faced a locust threat of this magnitude in 70 years. South Sudan and Uganda are not currently affected, but are at risk.

Facing an unprecedented threat

FAO is providing forecasts, early warning and alerts on the timing, scale and location of invasions and breeding. The speed of the pest's spread and the size of the infestations are so far beyond the norm that they have stretched the capacities of local and national authorities to the limit. Given the scale of the current swarms, aerial control is the only effective means to reduce the locust numbers.

Aerial operations need to be upscaled substantially and very quickly in Ethiopia and Kenya. In addition, "Alongside pest control activities our response must include efforts to restore people's livelihoods," said FAO's Director-General. "Communities in Eastern Africa have already been impacted by extended droughts, which have eroded their capacities to grow food and make a living. We need to help them get back on their feet, once the locusts are gone," Qu said.

At this stage and on basis of conservative estimates, FAO seeks $70 million to urgently support both pest control and livelihood protection operations in the three most affected countries.

Southwest Asia and Red Sea area also affected

In India, Iran and Pakistan numerous Desert Locust swarms have been present since June 2019 and have been breeding. Some of these swarms have migrated to southern Iran where recent heavy rains allowed them to lay eggs that could turn into swarms in spring 2020. Egypt, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen are also seeing substantial breeding activity that could see locust bands expand into swarms in the coming months. FAO is monitoring all situations closely, and is actively engaging with all countries facing Desert Locust threats to support their response activities.


HLA inaugurates new Advisory Group

HLA announces the creation of a new Advisory Group to support the delivery of its core mission.

The group is composed of distinguished professionals with deep knowledge of the humanitarian logistics sector, including many who have been closely involved with the work of HLA over the years. They are:

Andrew Parkes, Global Operations Manager, Malaria Consortium

Nick Murdoch, Independent Logistics & Supply Chain Consultant

Will Holden, Managing Director Emergency Logistics Team, CMILT

Martijn Blansjaar, Head of Supply and Logistics, OXFAM GB

Jane Tikhwi Muyundo, Castelbarco Capacity Building Consultants

Stuart Smith, Global Director, Humanitarian, Volga Dnepr Group

Neil Rodrigues, Director Global Supply Chain, International Medical Corps

Jarrod Goentzel, Director, MIT Humanitarian Supply Chain Lab

Michael C. Whiting, independent humanitarian logistics consultant

Ilse Larkin, independent humanitarian logistics professional and guest lecturer at University of Cranfield

John Cropper, Lead, Program Management and Humanitarian, Humentum

Frank Clary, VP Sustainability, Agility Logistics

The first meeting of the newly-constituted board took place on May 30, 2019 where they discussed among other things the draft HLA strategy, and the new ‘HLA Connect’ – which is an enhanced web platform which aims to make it less challenging for stakeholders to engage with the humanitarian logistics (HL) sector, and other related humanitarian initiatives / activities.

The group will meet remotely every two months, with the next call scheduled for the end of July.

“I am immensely pleased that HLA has now been able to launch a new advisory group to help steer the organisation through the implementation of its latest three-year strategy. HLA is extremely grateful to the members that have joined the group; they bring a broad range of expertise and wealth of experience. Their commitment to supporting the aims of the HLA and to building humanitarian logistics as a recognised sector is hugely important.” George Fenton, Chief Executive, HLA


HLA joined NCVO

HLA joined UK National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in November 2018 as a member organization. NCVO acts as the major connector in the volunteer sector. NCVO promotes volunteerism and serves the organizations that recruit volunteers, as well as volunteers themselves. Since HLA’s team consists of some volunteers at different levels of expertise, joining NCVO will help the organization in volunteer performance assessment and management. Apart from being a platform for volunteers and non-profit organizations to connect and network with one another, NCVO provides a wealth of learning materials for professional development of volunteers and their associated organizations on its website. Its wide range of training courses covers topics tailor made for trustees, board of directors, volunteers’ supervisors, fundraisers, advocacy officers, campaigners and financiers. For more details on what NCVO has to offer, you can visit their website: www.ncvo.org.uk