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Severe warnings have been issued, particularly in nations such as Somalia, that if unresolved and not halted starvation will become another major test for nations already under the pressures of food shortages and the coronavirus. According to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), even a “tiny swarm of locusts could consume the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people”. Already, hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops and pastureland – within the likes of Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda – have been decimated, rising the overarching concerns of hunger and famine.
As early as March, the infestation in the east of the continent had seen 25km of cropland destroyed.
And with new locust eggs hatching soon, experts made a devastating assessment on what could happen next.
The IRC’s website explains: “A fourth generation of locust eggs is now hatching, which experts predict will create a locust population 8,000 times larger than the current infestation.
“This coincides with the start of harvest season, and will be compounded by the COVID-19 emergency. Pasture for livestock is also in jeopardy.
“Somalia will likely be hit hardest.”
It adds: “If harvests fail, the IRC estimates that 5,000 households, especially those led by women, will need urgent humanitarian assistance by August.
“As food prices skyrocket, women and girls will face an increase in violence and theft as their partners are forced to travel in search of food and work.
“Additionally, women will be forced to take on additional responsibilities in managing existing farms or small businesses, even as they tend to the needs of their families.”
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Reports explains that the Somali government was the first in the famine-stricken region to declare a state of emergency amid the desert-locust crisis.
Experts say that without humanitarian backing, at least 3.5 million will face the crisis of not having any food between July and September.
And in a region already facing major difficulties over violence, droughts and disease, a horrifying decline could be experiences.
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Sahal Farah, of Docol – a partner organisation with the IRC – explained that the outbreak is considered the harshest in 70 years.
He added: “This is the worst locust invasion we have seen in our generation.
“It destroyed pastures, contaminated water sources and [has] displaced many pastoral households.
“The worst of all is that we do not have the capacity to control it, and so far we have not received any external support.”
To find out more visit the IRC’s website here.
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