Belgium supports FAO in controlling desert locust swarms in Yemen
Yemen is facing a serious desert locust threat with widespread hopper band infestations that will cause swarms to form later this month. If conditions remain favourable, there could be a considerable increase in locust populations in Yemen during the summer that would further threaten the region – affecting food security and livelihoods of rural comunities. Desert locust swarms threaten the already limited food supply and could contribute to further increasing food insecurity.
Yemen is already facing a huge humanitarian crisis. According to the latest IPC report issued in December 2018, while accounting for the current Humanitarian Food Assistance levels, 15.9 million people (53 percent of the total population) are facing severe food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 and above). Of greatest concern are the 64 000 people in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). To date, desert locust infestations have affected maize, date palm, vegetable and fruits. The economic impact is already estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Urgent desert locust control operations are required to safeguard crops and mitigate the risk of infestation in Yemen and neighbouring countries. Thanks to a contribution from Belgium to FAO through the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities (SFERA), FAO has initiated a project to support desert locust control operation in Yemen. The project will contribute to safeguarding the seasonal cropping areas, the food security and livelihoods of rural communities and conflict-affected Yemeni population, through immediate control and further prevention of locust swarms’ development.
At national level, the first beneficiaries are farmers, livestock breeders and nomads who live in the desert locust infested areas and whose livelihood will be protected from the damages that increased locust infestations would cause to agricultural production and pastures. The project will help around 100 000 people in Lahij, Shabwah, Hadramout, Abyan, Sann’a and Al-Hodeidah provinces in saving their crops, thus preventing food losses which can result in hunger and poverty in rural areas.
At regional level, other countries of the Central Region (nations around the Red Sea) will also benefit from the project; indeed, desert locust control in Yemen is key to avoid that neighbouring countries are invaded by locust swarms, potentially preventing further losses in the region.