Ugandan authorities have put a plan in place to combat a locust invasion. This follows sightings of the dreaded pests in the North-east of the country. The Food and Agriculture Organisation has described the locust infestation as the worst to hit the region in over three decades.
Uganda is just one of the East African countries affected by the infestation. While Uganda, South Sudan and Tanzania have been on high alert, the locust swarms have already caused panic in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Uganda’s prime minister called for an emergency meeting of relevant political leader and technical officers last night to galvanise the government’s plan to fight the locusts, after they had been spotted in the Karamoja region. The plan includes spraying pesticides on the affected areas from the air, with vans and tractors mounted with motorised sprayers also going directly into the fields. The government plans to deploy soldiers to combat the locusts and is working on cross-border spraying agreements with Kenya. Meanwhile, authorities in Tanzania are also bracing themselves, following reports of locusts seen in the Moshi area. Further, there is no telling just how far the voracious creatures will travel.
Hundreds of thousands of acres of crops in East Africa have already been destroyed by the insects, threatening food security in east Africa. A small percentage of an average swarm eats roughly the same amount as 10 elephants, or 2,500 people, per day. The United Nations is calling for international help to crush the crisis. It fears locust numbers could grow 500 times by June this year, and spread to 30 different countries, including India. 40 million to 80 million locusts fill up just over a square kilometre. People living in the affected areas say all that can be heard is the sound of the locusts chewing.