Current desert locust situation & FAO’s response – Press Conference (19 January 2021)

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  • United Nations published this video item, entitled “Current desert locust situation & FAO’s response – Press Conference (19 January 2021)” – below is their description.

    A senior official at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said significant progress has been made in the combat against Desert Locust in the Horn of Africa but stressed that “we should not be complacent” as the threat persists.

    At virtual press conference held today (19 Jan), Dominique Burgeon, FAO’s Director of Emergencies and Resilience said since the beginning of operations to fight the pest, 1.6 million hectares of land have been treated.

    He said national capacities in the affected countries have been augmented through the deployment of surveillance and control capacities, but the situation was not over.

    Burgeon said favourable conditions for locust breed persist, particularly following a cyclone in December which brough huge quantities of water to the Horn of Africa. He said the Organization must be prepared to sustain effort for a longer period of time.

    The FAO official said the Organization issued a revised appeal for 38 million USD on December 16 to sustain efforts in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan, which still had a funding gap of 37.3 million dollars to to continue operations in the countries.

    Dominique Burgeon, Director of Emergencies and Resilience, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO):

    “What is important to realize is that with the current level of funding that we have, we will have to stop or significantly scale down our operations in Kenya in late March, in Ethiopia on first of March, and in Somalia on 15 of March. So, really what we have been doing is again trying to draw the attention. We have made a step forward, we are much better prepared, but we should not be complacent. We should not relax. We should continue our efforts to continue this response over the coming months.”

    Keith Cressman, Senior Locust Forecasting Officer at FAO said because of the heavy rains in December, a number of swarms formed in eastern Ethiopia and central Somalia. He said as conditions dried out, the swarms migrated to northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia as forecasted and are moving west.

    Cressman said swarms will lay eggs and form new swarms by early April. He added, “As you know, early April coincides with the seasonal rains in Kenya, in southern Ethiopia, as well as with the planting period. This is a cause of concern and this is also why it is extremely important that the control operations, as Dominique mentioned, are not disrupted.”

    Responding to questions, the Senior Locust Forecasting Officer said the forecast for 2021 compared to 2020 is “less dire.” He added that there are less swarms than there were one year ago, largely due the control operations that have been going on since then, and the increased upscaling of operations.

    However, Cressman stressed that the situation “remains extremely serious,” but noted that countries are “much better prepared, much more experienced than they were” a year ago.

    United Nations YouTube Channel

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