News / Africa

Locusts Threaten Beleaguered Mali

An African farmer holds up locusts that have descended on crops (file photo).
An African farmer holds up locusts that have descended on crops (file photo).
Nancy Palus
Mali is bracing for an invasion of locusts as unrest in north and west Africa hampers efforts to control the crop-ravaging insects. Locust sightings have been reported in northern Mali, where families are already hard-hit by conflict and food insecurity, and where equipment used to control the swarms has been looted by armed groups.
 
As desert locusts approach northern Mali and neighboring Niger, national experts in Mali, who normally work on mitigating the impact, are hamstrung by unrest and a lack of access and equipment.
 
As of June 8, the Food and Agriculture Organization - the U.N. agency that monitors locust movements - classified Mali as a zone where surveillance and control “must be undertaken” and where crops are threatened.

No equipment
 
Oumar Traoré, head technician with Mali’s locust control center, which normally would carry out that surveillance and control, says most of the national center’s equipment was stocked in a warehouse in the northern town of Gao and everything was stolen when armed groups seized northern Mali.
 
When the groups swept into the region just over two months ago, they looted government buildings, hospitals, and the offices and warehouses of national and international aid organizations.
 
Most families in Mali’s extreme north depend on livestock, and locust swarms would destroy pastures that feed their animals.
 
Traoré says the worry now is that the insects could quickly advance farther south, where people live off farming.

The rain factor
 
As areas dry up, locusts move on and seek vegetation. Keith Cressman, the FAO’s senior locust forecasting officer, said sporadic rains in northern Niger and Mali could affect how the swarms behave.
 
"Of course not all areas have received these rains so there are areas in the north of both countries that are dry. So the locusts could overfly those areas and continue as far south as they can before they hit the southerly headwinds, Cressman explained, "but it could put them into the agricultural zones of the central parts of Mali and central and southern parts of Niger. The time they would be arriving would coincide with the planting of this year’s crops and we already know that in both countries [people] are very vulnerable this year to food insecurity because of last year’s poor harvest."
 
The U.N. World Food Program says that drought in the region has left millions of people hungry. The agency says the conflict in Mali has forced at least 300,000 people to flee, adding to the food crisis there and in surrounding countries.
 
Locust source


The desert locust swarms threatening Mali and Niger are coming from Algeria and Libya to the north.
 
Cressman told VOA that normally locust control teams would be able to control the insects along the Algeria-Libya border, but given events over the past several months that has not been the case.
 
"Algeria made an estimate, saying that of the potential areas that are infested with desert locusts, the ground teams could only reach 15 percent of those areas, so that means 85 percent of the areas were unsurveyed and untreated," he said.
 
Cressman said the situation is likely similar on the Libyan side.
 
FAO says a small portion of an average swarm - about one ton of locusts - eats as much food in one day as 10 elephants or 2,500 people.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid