ADDIS ABABA – The World Bank has approved 500 million US dollars in grants and low-interest loans to help countries in East Africa and the Middle East cope after swarms of locusts destroyed vast areas of crops.
The newly approved fund will focus on providing immediate assistance to help poor and vulnerable farmers, herders, and rural households overcome one of the worst locust upsurges in decades.
The worst-hit countries in Africa – Ethiopia, Kenya Uganda and Djibouti – will receive 160 million US dollars immediately.
“Locust swarms present a double crisis for countries that are also battling the COVID-19 pandemic,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass.
“Together, this food supply emergency combined with the pandemic and economic shutdown in advanced economies places some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people at even greater risk.”
East Africa already has 22.5 million severely food insecure people and 10.8 million forcibly displaced people, according to the United Nations.
Without broad-scale, coordinated control measures to prevent their spread to new areas, potential damages and losses to crop and livestock production and related assets in the greater Horn of Africa, including Yemen, could reach as high as US$8.5 billion by the end of this year.
By helping to mobilize a rapid response and more effective locust control measures, anticipated damages and losses will still be an estimated US$2.5 billion.
This is why the Bank “will fund measures to protect livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable impacted by the locust crisis”, said its officials.
Ethiopia will receive 63 million US dollars loan from the newly released portion of the loan.
The Bank says, in addition to the scale-up of surveillance and control measures, the finance will help the country provide seed and fertilizer packages to more than 150,000 farmers.
It will also support these farmers to plant during the upcoming Ethiopian cropping season, according to the world bank.
In pastoralist areas, Ethiopia avail emergency fodder to more than 113,000 households to safeguard their productive assets with the help of the newly found fund.
From the total fund to be released immediately, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda will get US$6m, US$43m and US$48m, respectively.
The latest support builds on the Bank’s earlier emergency financing of US$13.7 million for Kenya and US$600,000 that was reallocated for Djibouti to respond to the locust crisis.