Locust swarms and climate change

 

Sir, – Up to a dozen countries in east Africa are facing food shortages following the latest devastating crisis caused by climate change to hit the region.

Uganda last week deployed its military to support efforts to combat desert locusts that have been destroying crops across vast areas of east Africa for more than a month.

It’s the latest country in the region to mount a defence against the invading swarms, which have devastated crops and pasture lands in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Sudan since hatching during unexpected rainfall in Saudi Arabia at the start of the year.

A locust cloud of a square kilometre is capable of eating the same amount of food in a single day as 35,000 people, according to the United Nations. One swarm in Kenya has been measured at around 2,400 sq km – roughly the size of Luxembourg – and was estimated to contain up to 200 billion insects.

There is mounting concern that the fast-breeding locusts could grow by up to 500 times in the coming weeks, as the eggs they have been laying hatch in the rains that have arrived to the region in the past month.

Climate change has been blamed for creating the conditions for these vast swarms, not seen on this scale in living memory. Desert locusts now pose a new threat to food production in a region that is already reeling from three years of droughts and flooding. A substantial and sustained response from the international community is already overdue. – Yours, etc,

RAY JORDAN,

Chief Executive,

Self Help Africa,

Kingsbridge House,

Parkgate Street,

Dublin 8.