people at risk of food insecurity
23 countries in total
Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania most strongly affected
request from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in funding to fight the outbreak
2 million ha
of land in 10 countries targeted for treatment in 2020 and 2021
It began with climate change and a series of cyclones that created favourable conditions for locust breeding in the Arabian Peninsula. Political conflict and insecurity in Yemen, and later in the course of the outbreak in Somalia, rendered some breeding areas inaccessible even after they had been identified, such that the initial outbreak was not curbed. The ongoing cyclones with their strong winds subsequently supported the migration of swarms far into Africa and Southeast Asia, where the locusts not only destroyed crops, but also fodder for farm animals to the point of leading to the starvation of animals. Ultimately, the large-scale vegetation loss directly threatened the livelihoods and nutrition of an estimated 42 million people already at risk from food insecurity.
Food insecurity, poverty and a comparatively high level of dependence on subsistence agriculture make the population of the most affected countries particularly vulnerable to crop losses, and lack of government funds and capacities hinder the implementation of adequate locust management.
Given their cyclic recurrence, desert locust outbreaks will continue to be a hazard in the future, and may become more frequent and severe as climatic changes, including ocean warming, foster weather conditions that are favourable for swarm emergence.
Missing crucial intervention points due to regional and local barriers to management led to 23 countries facing serious impacts over food security and livelihoods. Climate change predictions indicate that conditions favouring desert locust outbreaks will likely occur more frequently in the future.