World Bank announces $500m programme to fight locusts, preserve food security in East Africa
London, May 22, 2020 (AltAfrica)-The World Bank Group approved today a US$500 million program to help countries in Africa and the Middle East fight the locust swarms that are threatening the food security and livelihoods of millions of people.
The Emergency Locust Response Program (ELRP), approved on Thursday by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors, will focus on providing immediate assistance to help poor and vulnerable farmers, herders, and rural households overcome one of the worst locust upsurges in decades.
ELRP will also provide immediate support to affected households through targeted social safety nets like cash transfers, while investing in the medium-term recovery of agriculture and livestock production systems and rural livelihoods in affected countries.
The first countries to be financed under the initial phase of the program are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, with a total financing package of US$160 million.
“Locust swarms present a double crisis for countries that are also battling the COVID-19 pandemic,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “Together, this food supply emergency combined with the pandemic and economic shutdown in advanced economies places some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people at even greater risk.”
East Africa already has 22.5 million severely food insecure people and 10.8 million forcibly displaced people, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The World Bank has estimated that, without broad-scale, coordinated control measures to reduce locust populations and prevent their spread to new areas, potential damages and losses to crop and livestock production and related assets in the greater Horn of Africa, including Yemen, could reach as high as US$8.5 billion by the end of this year.
By helping to mobilize a rapid response and more effective locust control measures, anticipated damages and losses will still be an estimated US$2.5 billion. This is why the ELRP will fund measures to protect livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable impacted by the locust crisis.
In addition to protecting livelihoods, physical assets and human capital of affected households, the program will deliver seed packages and other inputs to affected households to help restore farm production and livelihoods as quickly as possible.
It will also finance investments to strengthen surveillance and early warning systems so that countries are better prepared to combat future outbreaks.
As of early May 2020, locust swarms have infested 23 countries across East Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. This upsurge is the biggest outbreak faced by some countries in 70 years.
The program’s design builds on the strong technical foundation of desert locust management created by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which is already working with affected countries to ensure locust control operations are done safely and effectively.
The World Bank and the FAO will enhance their ongoing collaboration through the program.