Wednesday 29 April 2020

Torrential “long rains” from Kenya to Pakistan continue to fuel the biggest locust plague the world has ever seen as Covid-19 is about to hit hundreds of millions of the most food-insecure people on the planet

April has seen torrential rain from East Africa to Pakistan which is feeding the biggest locust plague the world has ever seen while Covid-19 is silently expanding in the poorest countries of the world. Map FAO

First came the floods. The waters swamped crop fields and created a breeding ground for swarms of desert locusts stretching from East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Southwest Asia.

A three-pronged attack is overwhelming the worlds most vulnerable countries affecting hundreds of millions of the most food-insecure people on the planet. April has seen torrential rain from East Africa to Pakistan which is feeding the biggest locust plague the world has ever seen while Covid-19 is silently expanding in the poorest countries of the world.

In countries whose medical systems are under-resourced, the health crisis could be compounded by a hunger crisis and lost livelihoods, according to the FAO.

The ongoing “long rains” in Kenya continue to cause flooding in western and eastern counties. Kenya Red Cross says as many as 30,0000 people have been displaced since March. Meanwhile, President Uhuru Kenyatta confirmed on 26 April that 29 people died in the massive mudslides and flooding in the border areas of Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot counties. The rains are helping the second generation of breeding which is about to start in Kenya, Spring breeding will cause a further increase in locust infestations in East Africa, eastern Yemen and southern Iran in the coming months. 

Deadly flash flooding has struck in eastern Ethiopia killing at least 4 people, with flooding also reported in southern areas. Flash flooding has affected parts of neighbouring Somalia over the last few days. Authorities warn of a high risk of flooding along the Shabelle and Juba rivers in the coming days.

Heavy rain has affected wide areas of Somalia since 20 April, causing rivers to rise and flash flooding. According to reports from the United Nations, tens of thousands of people have been affected or displaced. On 27 April, massive flash flooding swept through the city of Qardho (also known as Gardo) in the northeastern Bari region, part of the autonomous Puntland state. At least 6 people have died and several others are thought to be missing. Hundreds of families have reportedly lost their homes.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that 18 provinces in Iran are currently experiencing floods, with 7 fatalities and 2,534 people rescued and over 300 displaced between 10 and 14 April. Further heavy rain is expected.

Humanitarian agencies and local government report that flooding has affected thousands of people in Ma’rib Governorate, Yemen, including in areas of the capital, Marib City, and several camps for Internally displaced people (IDPs). Flooding struck after a storm brought heavy rain on 15 April. Capital of the country, Sana’a was also recently badly affected by flooding.

More heavy rain in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has had devastating consequences, with at least 5 fatalities reported between 14 and 15 April 2020. Ongoing heavy rain has affected the province since early March, with dozens of fatalities reported, mostly as a result of collapsing buildings.

Meanwhile, heavy rain has also affected parts of neighbouring Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) reported flooding in Kapisa Province, where crops and 183 homes were damaged.

Desert Locust situation update 28 April 2020

EAST AFRICA The current situation in East Africa remains extremely alarming as more swarms form and mature in northern and central Kenya, southern Ethiopia. This represents an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods because it coincides with the early beginning of the long rains and the current growing season. A new generation of breeding is underway in Kenya where more eggs will hatch and form hopper bands during May, followed by new swarms in late June and July, which coincides with the start of the harvest.

KENYA. More swarms mature in central and northern areas with a few laying eggs and hatching starts. Control continues.

ETHIOPIA. Immature swarms in the south (SNNPR, Oromia), mature swarms in N Oromia and N Somali regions; mid-instar hopper bands in the east (Dire Dawa - Ayasha). Control continues.

SOMALIA. Early instar hopper bands on the Ethiopian border in the northwest (Somaliland); scattered adults along the Ethiopian border in central areas (Galguduud).

NE AFRICA & ARABIAN PENINSULA Breeding continues in several countries where hopper bands are forming that could lead to new swarms.

YEMEN. Increasing reports of mature swarms copulating in the interior where floods occurred this week. ● SAUDI ARABIA. Control continues against mid-instar hopper bands near the Persian Gulf (Nairyah to Al Hofuf) and in the interior (Hail).

● IRAQ. Limited control continues against early mid-instar hopper groups in southern provinces (Kerbala and Thikar in addition to Al Muthanna, Al Diwaniya, Al Najaf).

UAE. Limited control against hopper bands on Oman border south of Al-Ayn.

SUDAN. The calm situation, only a few scattered adults on coast and interior.

SOUTHWEST ASIA Breeding continues in the spring breeding areas where the situation remains worrying in Iran.

IRAN. More hopper groups and bands continue along the southern coast; mature adult groups moved north in Sistan & Baluchistan to South Khorasan and lay eggs. Control continues.

PAKISTAN. Hopper and adult groups in Baluchistan; hopper groups and bands in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; hoppers near the Indian border. Control continues. FAO

2020 Locust Plague

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