LOCUST SWARMS SPREAD TO SOUTH SUDAN, THREATEN FOOD SECURITY OF MILLIONS
Locust swarms across Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Tanzania, and Uganda have now entered South Sudan, threatening crops and livelihoods of 25 million people. The locust outbreak in Kenya is the worst the country has faced in 70 years, while Somalia and Ethiopia are experiencing their worst swarms in 25 years. Locusts have also invaded Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (United Nations, Reuters, The Guardian).
According to the United Nations, one square kilometer of locusts can consume as much food in a single day as 35,000 people (Reuters). In South Sudan, 60% of the population already faces food insecurity (The Guardian). The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has appealed to the international community for $76 million to help control the infestations (AP News). On February 18, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged $8 million to support locust control operations in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia (BBC).
Unusually heavy rains and cyclones in the Indian Ocean have created favorable breeding conditions for locusts this year (United Nations). Experts predict that rising temperatures due to climate change will lead to a higher frequency of Indian Ocean cyclones and potentially more locust swarms in years to come (AP News).