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Q&A: Top U.S. Aid Chief Warns of Locust Devastation in East Africa Top U.S. Aid Chief Warns of Locust Devastat...
One of the world’s most impoverished regions faces yet another crisis. Swarms of voracious desert locusts are descending on East Africa in alarming numbers not seen in decades. Climate shocks—droughts followed by an unusually high number of cyclones—created the perfect storm of conditions for the tiny critters to breed and travel across the region from the Arabian Peninsula en masse, devouring virtually everything in their path.
The tiny pests are a ticking humanitarian time bomb, fueling food insecurity with the potential to exacerbate preexisting conflicts in an already precarious region. Locust swarms have been tracked in northeastern Kenya as large as 926.6 square miles—an estimated 192 billion locusts. Some swarms can consume as much food as 35,000 people in a single day and, with the right winds, travel up to 100 miles a day.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said it would need $76 million to combat the crisis immediately, though as of Feb. 21 it had only a fraction of that amount ready. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced it would provide $8 million to combat the locust swarms.
Foreign Policy spoke to the Trump administration’s top aid chief, USAID Administrator Mark Green, about the scale of the crisis and how the United States is responding.
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