Locusts in East Africa Worst Infestation in 70 Years

An estimated 192 billion locusts started invading Kenya about two months ago and has become the worst infestation there in 70 years. Locusts, also called Schistocerca gregaria, can reproduce quickly and travel long distances with the wind. The swarm in Kenya is currently more than three times the size of New York City and can eat the same amount of food as everyone in New York and California combined.

Desert locusts in Kenya’s Nasuulu conservancy (Source: NPR).

The locusts have greatly impacted crops and caused the area to become even more vulnerable to food shortages. If the locusts continue to breed, there will be a huge increase by the end of March which may impact planting season for farmers in Kenya. This would delay planting and contribute further to food insecurity.

Although experts know how to combat locusts, it has been difficult in East Africa due to a lack of resources and the challenges of spraying in conflict stricken places, such as Somalia and Yemen.

In January, the FAO asked for $76 million to combat the locusts in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya as well as Djbouti and Eritrea. After donations and pledges, the FAO still needs about $54 million.

Read more at NPR.