African locust outbreak reaches Uganda

JOHANNESBURG (Associated Press) – Uganda has taken steps to respond to the arrival of the largest locust outbreak in decades in East Africa, while the United Nations warned on Monday that “we simply cannot withstand another massive shock” in an at-risk region.

An emergency government meeting held on Sunday, hours after witnessing a locust swarm in Ugandan territory, decided to deploy military forces to help spray pesticides on the ground, and two planes are expected to arrive as soon as possible that will cooperate with those. tasks, stated in a statement. Air mist is the only effective method of control.

Swarms of billions of locusts have destroyed crops in Kenya, which has not experienced such outbreaks in 70 years, as well as in Somalia and Ethiopia, which have not experienced anything similar in 25 years. The insects have benefited from the wet conditions brought on by the unusual rains, and experts say climate change is expected to generate more of the same.

UN officials warn that immediate action is needed before the rains in the coming weeks lead to the emergence of new plants for new generations of locusts. If the problem is not addressed, they say, their numbers could increase up to 500 times before the driest climate arrives.

“There is a risk of disaster,” Mark Lowcock, director of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said during a report in New York, warning that a region where 12 million people are already severely food insecure will not be able to do so. Carry a new problem of this kind.

Without enough air to stop the swarms, a locust outbreak can turn into a pest, said Dominique Bourgogne, the UN emergency director, and “and when you have a plague, it takes years to control it.” English initials).

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Rodney Muhumosa in Kampala, Uganda contributed to this report

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