- After months of calling for international funds to fight the locust invasion in West Africa, donations are now finally being received. Control efforts in the heavily affected countries Mauritania, Mali and Niger are now being bolstered, but much damage is already done to harvests and pastures.
The international community has responded positively to an appeal launched by FAO to assist countries in west and northwest Africa in their fight against desert locusts, the UN agency said in a statement today. It however warned that the locust situation in the countries affected "remains dramatic" and that more international support is urgently needed.
So far, a total of US$ 32 million from the international community "have been approved or are in the pipeline," FAO said. Some of the funds have been provided bilaterally direct to the affected countries, but the great majority has been routed through FAO. An additional US$ 5 million had been provided from FAO's own resources.
Affected countries have also strongly mobilised their own resources for national locust control campaigns. Maghreb countries, namely Morocco and Algeria, are sending survey and control teams as well as vehicles and sprayers to Mauritania, Mali and Niger to bolster their national control efforts.
- But many African countries do not have sufficient funds to finance national control campaigns fully and avoid crop losses, the FAO statement said. Aircraft, pesticides, vehicles, sprayers, monitoring capacity and technical support were lacking in all affected countries.
Although funds were now being received, more was needed to effectively address the locust invasion. "Additional donor support is urgently needed for targeted aerial and ground spraying and for environmental monitoring," the UN agency said.
The worst affected country is currently Mauritania, with large areas of locust infestations requiring control. The situation is also deteriorating in Mali and Niger. Locust swarms have also been reported in Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad and Senegal.
- There are unconfirmed reports from north-western Nigeria, and there is a moderate risk that swarms will also reach Darfur, Sudan, though none have so far, the FAO statement said. This is the first time FAO lends support to these warnings, previously issued by other sources.
FAO warned that the locust situation could further deteriorate in the next few weeks with new swarms starting to form in September, seriously threatening crops that will be ready for harvest in the affected countries.
- The main effort should be now to protect as much as possible of the next harvest, which is crucial for the food security situation of millions of people in the region, the UN's food and agriculture agency said. FAO estimated that up to around US$ 100 million were needed to control the current locust upsurge and stop it from developing into a full-scale plague.
The main donors supporting the locust control campaign are the Arab Organisation for Agricultural Development, the Common Development Fund (FCD), Canada, the European Community, France, Islamic Development Bank, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
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