Fighting locust swarms and coronavirus in NE Africa
The NE corner of Africa is being hit by a real 'double wammy' at the moment. The locust swarms continue in Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya whilst the first cases of Coronovirus are now being reported across the continent.
The Desert Locust breeds up to five times a year, can cover vast distances and even small swarms (approximately 1 square km) can consume the same food as about 35000 people eat a day! This is going to lead to shortages of crops, pasture and fodder across an already largely impoverished region.
Locust swarms present a real risk to food security. The world's major international bodies (for example UN and international NGO's) should start lobbying grain and other food Producers to 'gear up' so that support can be provided to the region. For the latest situation see UN Locust Watch
Some are still taking comfort from the low numbers of reported coronovirus cases and deaths in their countries. Access to fresh clean water and soap, that has shown to be so important in the reducing the spread of the virus for regular hand washing, is just not available across this region. It is therefore very likely that the virus is widespread but still largely 'hiding' within communities. Standards of medical care and critical resources required (isolation units, hospital beds, ventilators, testing facilities, PPE etc) are mostly unavailable but will be desperately required in large numbers to minimise loss of life.
There is therefore, a real crisis coming to Africa and especially to the NE of the continent. Africa needs to come together to fight these issues and this requires finance. This cash must not mysteriously disappear into the pockets of the few but be used to enhance medical facilities, equipment and to prepare for potential famine. A malnourished, hunger torn population will be even more vulnerable to coronovirus.