UN: Cost of fighting East Africa locust invasion has doubled

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Locusts are seen as they copulate in the region of Kyuso, Kenya, February 18, 2020. The swarms, first sighted in December, have already destroyed tens of thousands of acres of farmland in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia REUTERS

The money needed to combat a desert locust outbreak in eastern Africa has doubled to $138 million, the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations said.

Desert locusts are seen in a grazing land in Nakwamuru village, Samburu County, Kenya January 16, 2020. REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi

The cash is urgently needed “to help governments control these devastating pests, especially in the next four months.” Only $33 million has been received or committed so far, the FAO said in a statement.

“Each day, more countries are affected,” the FAO said. This week, for the first time since 1944, a swarm entered the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan already have the pest threatening “the most important crop of the year,” FAO said.

The cost of the response to the impact of locusts on food security alone is estimated to be at least 15 times higher than the cost of preventing their spread, according to the World Food Program.

“The math is clear, as is our moral obligation. Pay a little now, or pay a lot more later,” the FAO said.

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