News / Africa

    Locust Infest More of Madagascar

     Betroka Region, Southern Madagascar - A dense swarm of locusts as seen during spraying operations, May 29, 2011. ©FAO/Yasuyoshi Chiba
    Betroka Region, Southern Madagascar - A dense swarm of locusts as seen during spraying operations, May 29, 2011. ©FAO/Yasuyoshi Chiba

    Multimedia

    Audio
    • Listen to De Capua report on locust plague in Madagascar

    Joe DeCapua
    The locust plague in Madagascar is getting much worse. More than half the nation is now infested. The U.N. says time is rapidly running out to bring the voracious insects under control.

    The Food and Agriculture Organization began issuing warnings about migratory locusts in Madagascar in August of last year. It appealed for funds for control programs. But funding fell short and control programs stopped. The locusts did not. Locusts are usually found in southwestern Madagascar. But when conditions are right – like the rainy season – their population can soar.

    This past March, the FAO announced the country was in the midst of a plague. It said at least 22 million dollars was needed by July. However, emergency appeals are described as “severely underfunded.” 

    FAO Locust Control Officer Annie Monard said that conditions could deteriorate sharply in the coming months.

    “We think that at the end of the winter season – the cool and dry season -- locust infestations will be present on two-thirds of the island.”

    The locusts wipe out any natural vegetation in their path, as well rice and maize crops. The FAO says rice and maize losses range from 40 to 100 percent on many plots.

    “The plague will of course have a big impact on the cereal production. [It] will also have an impact on pastures. So that means that – not this year, but probably next year – there will also be an impact on the cattle – on the health of the cattle,” she said.

    She said that food security and livelihoods of 13 million people are at stake. That’s 60 percent of the population.

    The Food and Agriculture Organization said the 22 million dollars is needed now so a locust control program can be in place by September. That’s when the next cropping season begins. A complete three-year program -- to bring the locusts into what’s called a recession -- will cost more than 41-million dollars.

    “If untreated, it could last for several years and be more and more important,” she said.

    Regular control programs, she said, easily could have prevented the plague from ever happening. Despite a problem that’s now literally of biblical proportions, Monard said donors have been slow to respond.

    “I think because the world is not so rich. There are a lot of other priorities. Also I think the current political situation in Madagascar is a bit difficult to assess for the donors and they could be a bit reluctant to invest. Yes, the plague will be stopped, of course. But after that, will the government be able to maintain a locust preventive strategy? So that is also a question that donors have.”

    Madagascar has been in a political deadlock for the past four years as rivals battle for the presidency. Elections, which had been scheduled for July 24th, have been postponed until August 23rd.  The United States has called on leaders to return the country to true democratic rule through free and fair elections.

    You May Like

    Video Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.