Currently categorised as an “upsurge”, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) may declare the locust invasion a “plague” if it takes a turn for the worse by end of this year. While there are measures people can take to protect themselves, such as digging trenches around their farms to prevent the hoppers from entering, or making noise to scatter the insects, a lot of damage has already been done. And there is no sign that they are slowing down.
FAO have announced that new swarms will form from mid-June onwards, coinciding with the start of the harvest. Thereafter, there is a risk that swarms will migrate to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border as well as to Sudan and perhaps West Africa.
We are monitoring the situation closely and are responding where we can by providing cash payments to families to buy fodder for livestock, food, seeds, agricultural tools and other basic items.
For almost two years, DRC has been grappling with the world’s second largest Ebola epidemic on record, with more than 2200 lives lost and over 3400 confirmed infections since the outbreak was declared in August 2018.
For a brief moment in April this year, it seemed like the deadly Ebola virus had been defeated. However, just three days before the World Health Organisation was to announce the end of the outbreak in the North East of the country, a cluster of new cases were identified in the North West. The highly contagious haemorrhagic fever, named after the Ebola river, is believed to have originated in bats. It is spread via bodily fluids and has a fatality rate of more than 60 per cent.
Another surge of Ebola cases is a major blow for the DRC, which is also battling to contain Covid-19 and the world’s largest measles outbreak.
We are responding in the north of DRC, and have integrated Covid-19 messaging into our response programme.