The International Committee of the Red Cross warned on Tuesday that new flocks of desert grasshoppers could have devastating effects on people in East Africa. “The desert locust plague should not be forgotten in the race against the coronavirus,” it says.
The desert grasshoppers, which take advantage of ideal humidity conditions, are appearing en masse in large areas of East Africa. In recent months, they have already plagued Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania.
The Red Cross reports that it has seen a deterioration in food security in many areas since the insects attacked crops during a first invasion. In fact, authorities have called the situation the most dramatic in 25 years. “We must respond now to avoid the worst,” says the Red Cross.
A flock of desert grasshoppers, the area of one square kilometer, can consume the amount of food for 35,000 people in one day. But the pests cannot be appropriately controlled due to the corona crisis. The right pesticides, for example, are no longer easy to get to the site, because air transport has mostly stalled.
For many countries in East Africa, the correct food supply has been problematic for some time, due to a series of droughts, floods, and conflicts. About nineteen million people fight against hunger.