Somalilandsun: Billions of desert locusts have swept across east Africa, threatening the livelihoods of more than 20 million people.
Now a second wave is coming and Somaliland isn’t spared
The United Nations has called the infestation – which has also affected Uganda, Djibouti, South Sudan, Eritrea and Tanzania, Sudan – “a scourge of biblical proportions”. But so far limited resources have hampered efforts to fight the locusts, particularly in impoverished Somaliland – and the worst is yet to come.
A second generation of the insects – about 20 times larger – has spawned in countless pockets across the Horn of Africa. Within weeks, they will reach adulthood and take flight.
“The timing could not be worse. The second wave coincides with the planting season and the rains which are due in April,” said Daniel Molla, food security and nutrition advisor for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“The swarms will wipe clean the vegetation just as it is sprouting. Farmers will have nothing to harvest and pastoralist communities will find little for their animals to eat.
Locust swarms are not new to Somaliland, a poor, drought-prone region of 4.5 million people, nestled along Africa’s northeast coast with the Gulf of Aden.
But climate scientists have warned that erratic weather linked to global warming has created ideal conditions for the insects to surge in numbers not seen in a quarter of a century.
Warmer seas have led to more cyclones in the Indian Ocean, causing heavy rainfall along the Arabian peninsula and the Horn of Africa, producing the perfect environment for breeding.
Since crossing the Gulf of Aden into eastern Africa in December, the swarms – which can travel up to 150 km (93 miles) in a day – have devoured fields filled with crops such as maize, millet and sorghum, and stripped bare grazing land.