UN releases $10m for aerial spraying against East Africa locusts

Friday January 24 2020
latest009 pix

A group of men attempts to fend off a swarm of desert locusts flying over grazing land in Lemasulani, a village in Kenya's Samburu County on January 17, 2020. PHOTO | AP

The United Nations has released $10 million (about Shs36.8) for aerial pesticide spraying in response to the worst locust outbreak in decades to hit East Africa, a UN spokesman said Thursday.

The outbreak is affecting the Horn of Africa, Southwest Asia and the Red Sea, said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

He said that Mark Lowcock, under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, released the money from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

"It is the worst of its kind in 25 years for Ethiopia and Somalia and the worst Kenya has seen in 70 years," Haq said.

"Crops are being wiped out in communities that were already facing food shortages. The outbreak is exacerbating the impacts of climate change already being felt in this region."

The allocation will go to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN food agency, to fund an increase in aerial pesticide spraying operations, the spokesman told reporters at a daily briefing.

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Lowcock said the action had to be taken now, because, if left unchecked, the outbreak has the potential to spill over into more countries in East Africa with horrendous consequences. A swift and determined response to contain it is essential, the UN humanitarian chief added.

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