Skip to main content
European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
Desert locusts in Eastern Africa

Factsheet

Introduction

Since 2019, Eastern Africa has seen an upsurge of desert locusts, spreading across several countries at rates not seen in decades.

Desert locust is one of the most destructive pests globally, posing an enormous threat to food security and livelihoods, as they can cause large-scale damage to crops and pastures.

At the end of 2021, the situation seems to be under control, thanks to massive response operations and conditions in the Horn of Africa not conducive to locust breeding. Only 2 hotspots remain, and strict surveillance continues.

What are the needs?

A desert locust infestation is a serious threat to food and nutrition security and means to earn a living. It destroys crops and pastures, on which the region’s economy depends. The risk of new infestations and continuous breeding could limit food and fodder availability, leading to a rise in food prices.

As herders might be forced to move to other areas looking for pasture, the risk of communal conflict over pasture, grazing land and rangeland will also increase. Thanks to  relentless efforts to curb the spread of the infestation since 2019, including with EU early funding, the upsurge is finally declining.

The desert locust is just one of the many threats faced by the region that can significantly affect food and nutrition security: (i) conflict, (ii) natural hazards caused by climate change such as floods and droughts, (iii) the economic crisis, and (iv) the effects of COVID-19.

The current drought in the Horn of Africa – one of the worst droughts in recent history – mainly affects Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. The drought effects further exacerbate humanitarian needs, with 12 to 14 million people severely food insecure.

map of Eastern Africa with locusts spots

How are we helping?

To respond to these new humanitarian needs in the Horn of Africa, the European Commission allocated €66 million in 2020.  

This funding targeted Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Djibouti, and Eritrea. It included €41 million from EU humanitarian aid, shared among 5 countries in the region (Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan).

In April 2021, the EU announced a further allocation of €8 million to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The funding supports FAO surveillance and control operations in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan.

The focus of the EU response is on control and surveillance measures, food assistance and livelihood support for vulnerable populations.

Last updated: 22/02/2022
Picture: © FAO/Sven Torfinn.

Facts & figures

9 countries affected in Greater Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and Kenya worst affected.

30.5 million people already severely food insecure in the region.

EU funding for 2020:
€66 million for desert locust response

  • €41 million from EU humanitarian aid
  • €25 million from EU development aid

EU humanitarian funding 2021-2022:
€8 million to support desert locusts’ surveillance and control operations in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Sudan.