A desert locust eating vegetation (Kenya, April 2020). A very small swarm eats the same amount of food in one day as about 35,000 people.
Photo: ©FAO/Sven Torfinn

Desert locusts likely to reach West Africa

As the desert locust invasion in East Africa continues, West Africa is concerned about the risk of it spreading westwards. Swarms were predicted to arrive in Chad by mid-June 2020, according to simulations by researchers from CIRAD.

West Africa is threatened by a desert locust invasion, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) warns in April 2020. 

East Africa is continuing to be invaded by desert locusts. A group of researchers from CIRAD recently conducted several simulations to assess the risk of locusts spreading to Chad, using weather data for the years 2015 to 2019. 

In four out of five cases, swarms, blown by the prevailing winds, were predicted to reach southern Chad by May or June this year, the summer reproduction period. Chad is the historic gateway for invasions of West Africa from East Africa and the Middle East.

"Once the swarms arrive in Chad during the rainy season, summer reproduction could see the invasion spread throughout West and North Africa", writes Cyril Piou, an ecologist at CIRAD specialising in locust population dynamics.

As Cyril Piou says, "the consequences of swarms arriving in the reproduction zones in Chad should not be underestimated. Summer reproduction in the Sahel could trigger an invasion of the entire region. "Other factors could aggravate the risks, notably as a result of the current insecurity in large parts of the Sahel, and logistical aspects linked to the Covid-19 pandemic."

The Commission of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for controlling the Desert Locust in the Western Region (CLCPRO) is working with its ten member countries in West and North Africa to prepare for such an event

(CIRAD/ile)

Read more at CIRAD website