Somalia and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched a monitoring centre for desert locusts in the country. Said Hussein Iid, Somali’s minister for agriculture and irrigation, said the government has prioritised the eradication of the desert locusts and other invasive species.
The minister added that the government is now developing regulations to ensure Somalia is properly protected against such pests. The National Desert Locust Monitoring and Control Centre, which will be based in Qardho in northeast Somalia, will be the national desert locust early-warning and control base.
“Part of these efforts include the formation of the Somali Agriculture Regulator Inspection Services (SARIS) as well as the National Desert Locust Unit (NDLU),” he said in a statement.
According to the FAO, Somalia is one of the countries that have made significant progress in combating one of the worst desert locust outbreaks in recent memory. These types of facilities will aid in any rebound that climatic conditions may bring about, and surveillance and control operations at a large scale must be maintained, with the government taking the lead.
How did the locust swarms start?
Two unprecedented cyclones, connected to climate change, dumped rain in the Arabian peninsula’s remote Empty Quarter in 2018, resulting in an 8 000-fold increase in locust numbers.
Strong winds drove the swarms into Yemen in 2019, then across the Red Sea into Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Kenya in 2020. Their populations were bolstered by a wet autumn and a cyclone in Somalia, setting the stage for a great problem last year. Hundreds of millions of insects raced into Uganda, South Sudan and Tanzania. The locusts are affecting 23 nations from Sudan to Iran to Pakistan.