By Sharon Atieno

As East Africa’s agro-pastoral areas are at risk of new wave of desert locusts’ invasion, a virtual meeting convened by Ministers responsible for Agriculture and Livestock of the Member States of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and representation from Saudi Arabia and Yemen among other stakeholders called for increased regional collaboration in handling the menace to avoid further food insecurity at this time.

“The combined risk of desert locust on the planting season, the floods and the Coronavirus pandemic represent extremely alarming and unprecedented threats to the food security, nutrition and livelihoods in the region. A region where around 25 million people are already in need of food assistance, according to the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG) co-chaired by IGAD and FAO,” says Workneh Geneyehu, IGAD Executive Secretary. 

IGAD calls for Member States and partner agencies to continue stepping up monitoring and control activities and share best practices including national desert locust action plans as well as intensification of regional and cross-regional cooperation with Member States acting collectively through IGAD and joining forces with neighbours and relevant agencies.

Member States are also beckoned to make special arrangements for movement of desert locust experts and equipment within and between countries to enable effective control operations amid lock down situations.

While farmers in IGAD regions are requested to continue farming and governments to make farm inputs readily available through special arrangements; transnational control institutions, particularly the DLCO-EA and CRC that have the mandate to fight the desert locust and other migratory pests should be strengthened.

Member States, are also called upon to continue supporting DLCO-EA to better deliver on its regional mandate, establishing a data sharing protocol and strengthening the existing joint Integrated Regional (and Member State) Pest Early Warning System by honouring their subscription commitments. 

Furthermore, IGAD beckons Member States to closely monitor the use of chemicals in control operations to avoid harmful impacts on the environment, human and animal health; while intensifying on the ground implementation of control operations with the generous support of partners. 

Member States and partners to continue preparing for livelihood recovery and resilience interventions, and; operationalize the IGAD Regional Disaster Response Fund to support timely response to all disaster emergencies in the region, IGAD adds.