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Saturday, April 11, 2020

Locust Swarms of Biblical Proportions Threaten Africa

Locust Swarms
Image: The Source Magazine
The COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe and brought many countries on its knees. While the whole world seem to be put on a halt, billions of locusts swarmed the skies of fertile East African nations of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Somalia. The locust swarm is said to originate from Yemen early in February 2020, the swarms crossed the Red Sea and reached the African soil later that month.

Pesticides seem to not hold back the swarms from eating the crops of farmers in the affected countries. After all, desert locusts can eat thrice its weight and move in large numbers numbering billions per swarm and can even cast an illusion of blotting the sky. Farmers and locals found ways to mitigate the damage done by these pests by noise barrages and spraying pesticides. Grass and other plants eaten by grazing animals were also not spared by desert locusts.

Locust Swarms
Image: Common Dreams
Previous famines in Africa gave people flashbacks of the footages shown at Live Aid 1985. It is feared that the food security of the region is at stake if the more destructive second wave of the swarm raze through East Africa. The humid weather condition sets the perfect condition for the desert locusts to breed. Climate change is said to be contributing factor for the locusts to swarm in an alarming rate.

These swarms pose a huge threat on the thriving East African nations. Countries like Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda experienced a huge stride in economic development in the past decade. Trade liberalizations lift most of the population out of poverty but the imminent threat posed by the locust swarms can set them back from years of development.

Locust Swarms
Image: NBC News
The threat posed by locust swarms eclipsed the fears of a COVID-19 pandemic in East Africa. Food security for at least 20 million Africans is at stake if the swarms were not dispersed. Closed borders brought by the pandemic made it harder for the hardest hit areas such as parts of Kenya and Somalia to deal with the locust problem.


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