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Shortage of funds for pilots, fuel threatens locusts fight


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Shortage of funds for pilots, fuel threatens locusts fight


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Kenya was the hardest hit with the locust invasion in 2020 compared with her East African counterparts. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • A shortage of funds for paying pilots, fuel and maintenance of 28 planes risks derailing the fight against locusts in East Africa, a United Nations agency has warned.
  • Swarms of desert locusts have reappeared in East Africa to the dismay of farmers and villagers who witnessed the flies wreak havoc on their crops and pasture in previous years.

A shortage of funds for paying pilots, fuel and maintenance of 28 planes risks derailing the fight against locusts in East Africa, a United Nations agency has warned.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has warned that without additional financing for fuel, airtime, and pilot hours, the 28 anti-locust aircraft which are now patrolling the skies to spot and spray locust swarms could cease operations in March.

Swarms of desert locusts have reappeared in East Africa to the dismay of farmers and villagers who witnessed the flies wreak havoc on their crops and pasture in previous years.

FAO Deputy Director-General Laurent Thomas said there is a real possibility that the region could bring this upsurge to an end this year but there is need to “continue with the exercise of combating without stopping”.

FAO estimates that some $38.8 million in additional funding will be needed to continue the fight through June, urging humanitarian partners to help East Africa and Yemen get through the last mile of their desert locust marathon.

“Governments have built up capacity in record-time. Swarms have been massively reduced in number and in size,” said FAO.



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