Monday, February 10, 2020

A Plague of Locusts in East Africa

Over history, there are times when solitary locusts undergo what the BBC calls a "Jekyll and Hyde" transformation and become very sociable, forming huge flying swarms.  Of course, we remember the plague that God sent to Egypt when Moses was seeking to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go.  But the chart below from the FAO shows that this type of plague is not uncommon.

These plagues can have up to 10 million (10,000,000) locusts and can cover 120 miles (200 km) in a day, eating enough crops which would comparatively feed 2500 people for a year.  The last swarm in West Africa cost 2.5 billion in harvest losses in the years 2003-2005.
The worst swarms in decades are now crossing the Horn of Africa, causing significant damage in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia.  They eat 1.8 million tons of vegetation over 135 miles (350 km) every day, affecting more than 20 million people.

The FAO said that this swarm is breeding so fast, it could grow 500 times by June.  There are efforts being made to spray chemicals but the area is so large that the cost is prohibitive (and also has other side effects).

Please pray for East Africa and for swift responses by the UN and others involved in emergency aid to combat this issue.  Please pray for the smallholder farmer, the families that will be impacted both in terms of food and income.