FAO strengthening countries’ capacities in desert locust risk reduction in East Africa and the Middle East
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is conducting a 5-day training workshop for technical officers in charge of desert locust control from East Africa and the Middle East, aimed to enhance preparedness of their countries to effectively respond to desert locust outbreaks and invasions. Participants to the desert locust contingency planning workshop have been drawn from both breeding and invasion countries, and these include Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Somalia, Syria, and Uganda.
“The training comes at the right time, especially with predictions of an increase of desert locust threats during this time. The workshop will allow the discussion of the national plans of the participating countries, as well as the benefit of the practical exercise to be implemented by the participants for the proper application of the management tactics based on the agreed plans,” said Hon. Khalid Hneifat, Minister of Agriculture of Jordan underscoring the importance of the collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture of Jordan, and CRC and FAO.
Increasing vigilance – learning from the past
The 2019-2022 desert locust upsurge that hit the Central Region and the Horn of Africa, considered the worst crisis for decades, was successfully contained. However, it exposed gaps in preparedness towards desert locust management. The upsurge threatened food security and livelihoods of an estimated 35 million people, including small-scale farmers.
“Preparing to respond to desert locust emergencies is fundamental in preventing and controlling desert locust outbreaks. The training will equip officers with skills in developing and implementing desert locust contingency plans which serve as the benchmark for assessing the preparedness of national locust control units to effectively address locust crises,” Shoki AlDobai, Team Leader for FAO’s Locusts and other Transboundary Plant Pests and Diseases.
During the workshop, participants will review and update existing national contingency plans to enhance the countries’ vigilance, as preventive control does not fully guarantee that a crisis will not occur.
Addressing the participants, Nabil Assaf, FAO Representative in Jordan, encouraged the countries to engage and adopt contingency plans as they complement predefined national models for emergency plans.
The training is organized under the USAID/BHA funded project “Desert Locust risk reduction in the Central Region and Horn of Africa” implemented by FAO and the Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Central Region (CRC).
Mamoon Alsarai Alalawi, Executive Secretary of the Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Central Region (CRC) said, despite ongoing efforts desert locust remain a persistent threat to the region, therefore, such training will enhance early preparedness among front line countries to address any gaps between calm situations and emergency situations.
Step by step guide to manage locust operations
These emergency plans outline the procedural steps for managing locust-related operations during crises, considering the efficiency and availability of human resources and necessary assets within locust control units.
The training will enable every country to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of all national authorities involved in controlling desert locust. Additionally, simulation exercise for campaign management will be conducted.
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