Locust swarms in East Africa: EU supports fight against infestation

The European Union has allocated an initial €1 million in emergency funding to support international efforts to tackle the desert locust outbreak currently wreaking havoc in eastern Africa. “The locust swarms are having a real humanitarian impact, destroying crops and pastures. Swift action is needed. Our emergency funding will help pastoralists and farmers in the affected areas who are at risk of losing their means of subsistence. We must step up efforts to tackle the situation before it affects more communities”, says Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management. This EU funding is being released as an initial, immediate response to the urgent need to scale up ground control measures to contain the locust outbreak and to protect rural livelihoods, especially of those already threatened by food shortages. The EU is considering further substantial support to the efforts that the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) is currently deploying in the region. Locusts are a voracious pest that can fly up to 150 km in a day. A typical swarm can contain 150 million locusts per km2, which each day can consume the equivalent of food crop to feed a population of 35,000 people.