United Nations warns of potential 'catastrophe' for Africa if locust outbreak not contained

039;India facing twin invasion of locusts but ready for it'

That makes it hard or impossible to conduct the aerial spraying of the locusts that experts say is the only effective control.

The locust threat comes as the region is recovering from what Lowcock described as recent "back-to-back shocks" which have undermined resilience, with some 19 million people at risk of experiencing severe food insecurity.

"Unless we get a grip of this in the next two or three or four weeks, we are anxious we are going to have a really serious problem".

FAO, which leads worldwide efforts to defeat hunger and improve nutrition and food security, said there were reports that desert locusts arrived in northeast Uganda while other reports indicated that they had crossed the border into northern Tanzania close to Mt. Kilimanjaro, reaching Arusha and Mushi.

An average locust swarm of around 40 million insects can travel up to 150 km a day and consume enough food in that time to feed 35,000 people.

"Without rapid action, we will be facing a rapidly expanding humanitarian crisis".

For the past few months, billions of desert locusts swarmed across eastern Africa-mainly affecting Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, with indication they were likely to spread further.

"The other use case for drones is in post disaster mapping", said Kush Gadhia from Astral Aerial Solutions, a Kenyan firm using drones to address development challenges.

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FAO's senior locust forecasting officer Keith Cressman, explained in NY that Kenya has received "waves and waves of swarms" since the beginning of 2020, from the Horn of Africa, and "over the weekend they moved on the side of Mount Kilimanjaro across the border into Tanzania". So far just under $20 million is in hand, officials said. United Nations reports indicate that locusts can reproduce rapidly and, if left unchecked, current numbers could grow 500 times by June. "And that's why we need to act quickly", Mark Lowcock added, shortly before addressing ambassadors at the United Nations headquarters in NY. FAO Director-General QU Dongyu had warned that the locust upsurge threatens to provoke a humanitarian crisis.

And it's asked for $76 million in aid to help control the outbreak.

Back in 2019, the outbreak in East Africa came after heavy rainfall in the region and it brought a swarm of desert locust to the region, resulting in a complete loss of crops. Uganda last had desert locusts in the late 1960s and the current invasion is linked to climate change.

"The UN has issued an urgent appeal for assistance".

To combat the swarms, Ugandan authorities said they have transported pesticides to affected areas.

Last week, Al Jazeera reported Somalia became the first country affected by the locust infestation to declare a national emergency.

As per a desert locust expert, after Cyclone Mekunu in 2018 summers hit the middle east, rainwater was collected in parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

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