What are desert locusts?

Do you really know?

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What are desert locusts?

Do you really know?

What are desert locusts?

Desert locusts are a type of insect which have been threatening agricultural production in Africa, Asia and the Middle East for centuries. They are phytophagous, which means they feed on plants. In early 2020, these locusts have invaded several countries in East Africa, destroying vegetation everywhere they go. Experts fear the risk of famine, in a part of the world where many already live with food insecurity. 

To really understand what’s brought about the current upsurge, you have to go back to May 2018 and the Empty Quarter desert in the Arabian Peninsula. A cyclone and heavy rains created a warm, wet climate, which was ideal for desert locusts to breed and flourish. This area has no roads and is therefore not closely monitored by humans. A second cyclone later the same year enhanced this problem, with three generations of breeding occurring undetected. 

The locusts started migrating towards Yemen, where a civil war prevented any intervention, and then onto the horn of Africa. Just as countries were trying to contain the breeding in late 2019, Tropical Cyclone Pawan struck. The situation was already becoming out of control and it has only gotten worse since.

Somalia has declared a state of emergency, while several other countries are already facing their worst infestation for decades. There were six major locust outbreaks in the 20th century, with the last taking place between 1987 and 1989. 

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, desert locusts appeared at the border with South Sudan and Uganda at the end of February 2020. That was the first time since 1944, when the insects caused a famine. 

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation has already confirmed this is the worst locust outbreak to hit the Horn of Africa for 25 years. Many are already referring to the current situation as a plague, and there’s no telling how much worse it could get.

 

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What are desert locusts?

Desert locusts are a type of insect which have been threatening agricultural production in Africa, Asia and the Middle East for centuries. They are phytophagous, which means they feed on plants. In early 2020, these locusts have invaded several countries in East Africa, destroying vegetation everywhere they go. Experts fear the risk of famine, in a part of the world where many already live with food insecurity. 

To really understand what’s brought about the current upsurge, you have to go back to May 2018 and the Empty Quarter desert in the Arabian Peninsula. A cyclone and heavy rains created a warm, wet climate, which was ideal for desert locusts to breed and flourish. This area has no roads and is therefore not closely monitored by humans. A second cyclone later the same year enhanced this problem, with three generations of breeding occurring undetected. 

The locusts started migrating towards Yemen, where a civil war prevented any intervention, and then onto the horn of Africa. Just as countries were trying to contain the breeding in late 2019, Tropical Cyclone Pawan struck. The situation was already becoming out of control and it has only gotten worse since.

Somalia has declared a state of emergency, while several other countries are already facing their worst infestation for decades. There were six major locust outbreaks in the 20th century, with the last taking place between 1987 and 1989. 

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, desert locusts appeared at the border with South Sudan and Uganda at the end of February 2020. That was the first time since 1944, when the insects caused a famine. 

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation has already confirmed this is the worst locust outbreak to hit the Horn of Africa for 25 years. Many are already referring to the current situation as a plague, and there’s no telling how much worse it could get.

 

See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

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