The most effective method of controlling the outbreak is spraying pesticides in small, concentrated doses on the hatched locusts using vehicles and aerial sprayers.
However, shortages of equipment and increased rainfall in recent months have hindered aerial spraying, alongside conflict in certain areas. There have also been issues regarding the residual effects of particular pesticides which impacts how water, food, pasture and the locusts can be handled after being sprayed. There are less harmful, plant-based pesticides available but they’re in short supply.
Concern has been working with affected communities in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, providing cash payments to affected families to buy fodder for livestock, food, seeds, agricultural tools and other basic items.
The coronavirus pandemic is slowing efforts to fight the infestation, affecting the supply of pesticides and making it difficult for planes and technical experts to reach these countries.
Governments have been prioritising the continuation of aerial spraying where possible, but these plans could be impacted by lockdown measures as Covid-19 spreads.
Concern is monitoring the situation closely and exploring all possible options to ensure that food gaps are met – but it’s an extremely worrying time.
The next wave of locusts could devastate the lives of millions in East Africa, but the window of opportunity is still open.