Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Commits $10M to fight Locust upsurge in East Africa


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Commits $10M to fight Locust upsurge in East Africa
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Commits $10M to fight Locust upsurge in East Africa

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced yesterday that it is contributing $10 million to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to support its work with governments in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, to combat a locust infestation in East Africa that is posing a significant threat to food production and livelihoods in the region.

According to a statement from the foundation, the foundation is joining several other donors in responding to FAO’s urgent appeal to contain the crisis.

The locust invasion is the worst Kenya has seen in 70 years, and the worst in nearly a generation in Somalia and Ethiopia. Djibouti and Eritrea are also affected, and swarms have now reached neighboring Tanzania, and Uganda.

The foundation’s support is intended to help FAO and national governments confront the critical need for rapid control of the infestation, including aerial control of large swarms, reads a statement.

FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu has warned that the locust infestation could provoke a significant humanitarian crisis, with only weeks remaining to mount an effective containment operation.

The insects are threatening East Africa’s breadbasket, the Rift Valley, shortly before the arrival of the critical “long rains” growing season, which typically begins in March. A locust swarm covering just one square kilometer can quickly destroy food crops capable of feeding 35,000 people for a year.

Despite contributions by more than a dozen governments, donors and the FAO, a significant funding gap remains. The foundation urges contributions from additional donors to avoid a greater impact on livelihoods and a potential humanitarian crisis in the region.


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Solomon Yimer

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