Mohammed Ali, 30, a pastoralist, is visibly tired, but relentlessly searching for pasture for his cattle under scorching sunshine. He leads over 400 head of cattle from Ewa to Asayta Woreda in the Afar region. Although pastoralists like Mohammed are accustomed to making the annual 200 km trek in January when the rains stop, they were compelled to make the journey in October – three months early.
“Desert locusts destroyed all the natural pasture including green vegetation cover. Our livestock would starve to death if we did not move,” he said.
According to Ayalew Shumet, the Afar region’s coordinator of desert locust operations, about 10 million head of livestock in the region are currently affected by the scarcity of natural pasture. Because pastoralists rely on the weather and environment to secure livestock feed for their livestock, they are heavily impacted by the damage desert locusts have caused on pasture.
Desert locusts have also destroyed entire crop fields leaving farmers, and local authorities worried. Hussein Hundolpe vividly remembers the day locusts invaded his six-hectare maize field in Afambo Woreda with sadness.
“My family and I worked hard to clear the field. I bought an irrigation pump and fuel and ensured that my maize crop received enough water. When the plants were about one meter tall, locusts devoured everything in a few hours”, he said.
Recounting the incident, Ahmed’s neighbor, Fatouma, said a large swarm covered their village’s sky.
Source : Fao