Why Are There So Many Locusts in East Africa?
As the majority of the world continues to deal with COVID-19, people in East Africa are facing challenges on multiple fronts. Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia are currently experiencing overwhelming swarms of locusts, and crops that people need for food are being devoured before they can even be harvested. It also seems likely that these swarms will soon migrate to nearby nations as well.
It's difficult to say just how much damage these massive clouds of insects will cause, but by studying the conditions that allowed the locust population to boom, scientists hope to predict the scope of the damage in advance and come up with plans to mitigate it. However, it's difficult to implement a full-scale plan to counter these famine-bringing insects even in the best of times, let alone during a pandemic.
What Contributed to These Epic Swarms?
The first major question to ask about this infestation is what caused it. Locust swarms have been a reoccurring issue for farmers in Africa and at times even Asia and Europe since recorded history began. In fact, historians from Rome, Ancient Greece and elsewhere have commented about the intermittent scourge of locusts over the centuries.
What Needs to Be Done to Save Millions From Starvation?
Humanitarian aid is perhaps the best way for millions of African people to avoid starvation during the summer and autumn of 2020. In March, the USAID foundation announced that they would spend millions of dollars to assist East Africans in preparing against the swarms. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is also attempting to collect $76 million in donations to contribute to the effort.
Could Locusts Migrate to Other Parts of the World?
Locusts generally don’t move through rainforests or high mountains, and they don’t range far into Europe. However, they have spread as far as the Caribbean, India and even Russia. While far-ranging locusts tend to die off eventually, leaving only their original range in East Africa, they can do massive damage before that happens. This particular swarm has already reached 16 countries, including India, Iran and Jordan. Further spread seems unavoidable at this point, and as the summer rainy season approaches, it's possible that these pests may spread across much of North and West Africa.