The destructive migratory pest threatens catastrophe as it swarms through countries already plagued by food insecurity
Qu Dongyu and Mark Lowcock
Wed 12 Feb 2020 02.00 EST
A farmer tries to chase away a swarm of desert locusts in Kenya in January. Photograph: Dai Kurokawa/EPA
A colleague at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) tells a terrifying story about the desert locust.
In 2005 she visited farmers in Niger as they prepared to harvest their crops. Just hours later, a swarm of locusts swept through the area and destroyed everything. One month later, truckloads of families were forced to leave their homes because they had nothing to eat.
A year before that the UN had launched an appeal for $9m (£6.9m) to help Niger and neighbouring countries control the locusts. The response was slow, and six months later the amount required in the appeal had reached $100m. The maths was simple: the locusts were faster than the international response.