Locusts invade Uganda as East African crisis expands
Uganda is the latest country to be invaded by swarms of locusts ina crisis that already threatens crops in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.
Billions of the insets are swarming through the region as the result of changing weather patterns, resulting in the biggest crisis of its kind in 25 years for Somalia and Ethiopia – the biggest in 70 years for Kenya. Now, Uganda also faces the test of dealing with the destructive breed of grasshoppers that consume masses of vegetation and move on to the next food source.
Uganda to deploy troops, buy specialist aircraft
Uganda quickly responded to the sighting of locusts Amudat District in the semi-arid Karamoja sub-region over the weekend. Authorities held an emergency meeting with reports suggesting the country will deploy troops to battle the plague and buy specialist aircraft to spray aerial pesticides.
The East African nation has been on high alert in anticipation of a possible invasion after neighbouring countries announced their own struggles with locusts. In this sense, Uganda has had more time to prepare and it has more options available to it than Somalia, for example, where insecurity makes aerial spraying too dangerous.
The danger for Uganda and its neighbours is that the swarms have had more time to reproduce. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Sunday that nymph desert locusts maturing in Somalia will develop wings in the “next three or four weeks,” posing a much greater threat to the region if countermeasures aren’t taken quickly enough.
The UN has called for international help in dealing with the crisis in East Africa.
Featured image: By CSIRO, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35486123