Locust invasion has jeopardized the livelihoods of 20 million Africans—now a second wave is coming

A locust swarm in Kenya. Credit: AP

Billions of desert locusts have swept across east Africa, threatening the livelihoods of more than 20 million people. Now a second wave is coming.

Since December, billions of desert locusts have swarmed eastern Africa, ravaging crops, decimating pasture and threatening the livelihoods of more than 20 million people who depend on farming and livestock for their survival.


The outbreak, which is the worst in a generation, has seen hungry swarms – some the size of cities – sweeping across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, feasting their way through hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops and grazing land.

The United Nations has called the infestation – which has also affected Uganda, Djibouti, South Sudan, Eritrea and Tanzania, Sudan – “a scourge of biblical proportions”. But so far limited resources have hampered efforts to fight the locusts …. and the worst is yet to come.

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A second generation of the insects – about 20 times larger – has spawned in countless pockets across the Horn of Africa. Within weeks, they will reach adulthood and take flight.

“The timing could not be worse. The second wave coincides with the planting season and the rains which are due in April,” said Daniel Molla, food security and nutrition advisor for the …. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).


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