The locusts were blown from Yemen in December and swarmed southwards through Somalia, laying their eggs as they moved. New locusts are already hatching and starting to swarm in coastal areas, with more swarms predicted in March and April.
Concern Somalia has established mechanisms in place that allow for the distributions of emergency cash transfers and will be able to utilise these as needed in response to the humanitarian impact of the locust crisis.
“If farmers have to move their livestock further away to graze due to the destruction caused by locusts, it will mean their children will have little access to milk, which from past experience can lead to increases in malnutrition rates and negative coping strategies such as children dropping out of school,” Ms Solomon said.
Meanwhile, further south in Kenya, locust swarms up to 60 km by 40 km are expected to result in harvest losses of 50% to 75% in some areas, and losses of up to 65% of pastureland. Concern is responding with cash supports for 5,000 people throughout April and May, in response to the worst locust infestation in Kenya in 75 years.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that the number of locusts could be 500 times greater by June unless effective control measures are taken. The FAO and Kenyan government are working to spray infestations to control them.
With wind directions expected to change in March, the FAO is forecasting that the swarms will move northerly towards Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan, putting food supplies of another 20 million vulnerable people at risk.
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