As the novel coronavirus looms over the entire continent, Africa is now gearing up for another natural phenomenon that will affect the everyday lives of the people.
A wave of locusts is expected to sweep the entire continent. It would be the second wave of this year, and is expected to be 20 times bigger compared to the first wave. The forecast has many concerned as the first wave was already one of the worst waves in almost 70 years.
The locusts are currently growing in size in their breeding grounds. They are most commonly found in Eastern Africa, mainly in countries such as Somalia and Ethiopia.
Locust waves can cause irreparable damage to the local community. One local authority has even gone on to state that he is more worried about the locusts than he is of the coronavirus. The virus is spreading at a slower rate in Africa compared to Asia or Europe.
However, the global pandemic is indirectly affecting the efforts to minimize the damage. Most notably, Japanese pesticides that the Ugandan government ordered has not been delivered due to global shipping restrictions.
Moreover, there are worries that the locust wave may incite the spread of the coronavirus. Farmers traditionally gather together to fend off the locusts, which significantly increases the risks of mass infections should one be infected.
International organizations and non-government organizations are also readying their resources. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) is the most pertinent to this upcoming outbreak.
UNFAO has warned that the locust wave could pose an “unprecedented threat” to the livelihoods and food security for everyone where the locusts are expected. Their analysis is that global climate change is one of the reasons why the waves are getting bigger and more frequent.
Furthermore, subsequent locust waves are to be expected in the same regions. Based on weather conditions, experts warn that a third outbreak could take place during the harvest season as well.
For the local community, that could be an existential threat. Most of the regions that will be hit the hardest are populated by low-income rural farmers. With their crops being the only source of income, many fear that they may not be able to put food on the table for their family.
One farmer told the UNFAO that it is the interest and generosity of the people that is really needed for him and many others like him. Share with us your thoughts in the comments, and be sure to follow us on Facebook for more news like this one.