Additional Aircraft to Join Fight Against Locusts

Latest Accidents Dents Ethiopia’s Effort to Control Desert Invasion

ADDIS ABABA – A turboprop aircraft crashed on Thursday while while it was spraying pesticides for locusts in East Harrarge of Oromia regional state, reports a state television.

This is for the second time in seven days that a similar accident occurred. Last Friday, an helicopter in Werebabo area of Amhara region crashed while spraying pesticides against desert locust.

Officials stated technical glitches as cause of the two incidents. In both cases, the pilots survived but are receiving medical treatment for injuries both sustained due to the accidents.

The pilot who survived Thursday’s crash has been taken to a hospital in Addis Ababa for medical treatment, the national broadcaster reported.

Ethiopia has managed to reduce the impact of the desert locusts so far with the help of helicopters and aircrafts. Officials say they have helped them to cover a larger area which, otherwise, would be difficult if traditional means were used.

The majority of helicopters and aircrafts were brought into the country after Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) leased them with the support of Ethiopia’s humanitarian partners.

The government has also leased at least three helicopters to support the operation to control the desert locust invasion, which experts say the worst in 25 years.

The turboprop aircraft can fly for over four hours at a speed of 180-200 km per hour. They can carry 1 500 liters of pesticides, allowing them to treat up to 1 500 hectares in one flight.

The total area treated in the country since June 2019 to May 2020 was around 267 000 hectares while over 454, 000 hectares have been surveyed.

The challenge, however, remains with a new wave of locust invasion appearing in north and eastern part of the country.

[Photo File]

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