Somalia has declared a state of emergency over a locust invasion that is threatening to wipe away crop due for harvest from April.
Somalia already has about three million people facing food shortage.
Said Hussein Lid, Somalia’s Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation, said the government has identified a large swarm of locusts in the southern federal states of Hirshabelle, South West and Jubbaland.
With the declaration, Somalia is seeking targeted funding and efforts to tame the swarms attacking a region that, according to a situational report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), is already food poor.
Somalia’s decision came on Thursday after Mr Lid met representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and ministers from the three southern states of Somalia.
The officials “acknowledged the need to amplify efforts in the coming weeks and months, to mitigate damage in food security and livelihoods in Somalia due to desert locust infestation,” said a bulletin issued on Thursday by FAO Somalia Representative Étienne Peterschmitt.
The locusts have ravaged most of the Horn of Africa region, and Somalia is the first country in the region to issue a state of emergency.
In Kenya, officials said at least 15 of the 47 counties have been affected since a second wave of locust invasion began in November. They include Garissa, Wajir and Mandera which border Somalia’s south-western region.
However, unlike Somalia, Kenya has been able to embark on aerial spraying of farms to kill the insects.
Peter Munya, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, said 75 different swarms entered Kenya from Somalia and Ethiopia and authorities had dissipated 66 of them in an area of about 19,000 hectares using nine aircraft.
“Funding is needed to increase control efforts over the coming months, with sustained efforts needed in Northern and Central Somalia as we monitor the development of potential new swarms,” said a joint statement of FAO and Somalia government officials on Thursday.
Officials said the risk of crop damage for 2021 “remains high and alarming” from the desert locusts.
FAO says it may need up to $38 million to keep the planes spraying chemicals in Kenya and Somalia.