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lions of hectares of vegetation in their cross-border migr●ation, exacerbating the already fragile food security situation in ●the region. A girl shows the desert locusts in Kitui County, Kenya●, Feb. 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Yu) The desert locust, which can tra●vel 150 km in a single day, is deemed the most devastating of locus●ts. A small swarm covering one square km can eat the same amount of● food as 35,000 people in a day, said the United Nations Food and A●griculture Organization (FAO). "The situation remains extremely ala●rming in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia where widespread desert locust● infestations and a new generation of breeding threaten food securi●ty and livelihoods in the region," it noted Tuesday. The locusts mo●st recently invaded South Sudan from Uganda, and the South Sudan go●vernment is seeking funds worth 20 million U.S. dollars for chemica●ls, sprays and personnel to counter the locust invasion. The Horn o●f Africa is faced with unprecedented challenges of food security an●d economic development, with a humanitarian crisis looming ahead. T●he FAO has urged immediate, adequate countermeasures and intensifie●d international efforts. A swarm of desert locusts invade parts of● Mwingi Town in Kitui County, Kenya, Feb. 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Y●u) EAT AWAY HOPE The locust outbreak is the worst in 70 years in Ke●nya, and the worst in 25 years in S9

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and Ethiopia, where the i●nsects bred before spreading to Kenya and other countries. In Kenya●, locust swarms were seen to move like huge dark clouds before desc●ending on farms, nibbling away pasture, maize, khat, cowpeas, beans● and other crops in hours. Areas like Mandera and Isiolo in the nor●th, and Tharaka Nithi in central Kenya, were attacked again after a●erial chemical pesticides spraying. Although the government has spr●ayed pesticide and other chemicals on a wide range of areas in orde●r to curb the locust outbreak, at least 18 of Kenya's 47 counties w●ere affected. Kello Harsama, the administrative secretary heading t●he State Department for Crop Development under Kenya's Ministry of ●Agriculture, said the government will work with the FAO to train 60●0 chemical spraying personnel. "Aerial spraying of the pesticide in● the last two months is yet to achieve desired results, thus we nee●d to devise innovative strategies like the use of the trainees, far●mers and extension workers to conduct ground spraying starting with● northern counties of Isiolo, Marsabit, Turkana and Wajir," he said●. "My crops had done well following the heavy rains and I was looki●ng forward to a bumper harvest but then the locusts came and ate aw●ay my hope," Beatrice Ngari, a farmer in Embu, central Kenya, told ●Xinhua. But Ngari was unaware that it is also the predicament of ma●ny farmers across Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Sudan a●nd Uganda. The rains between October and January served to provide ●a favorable environment for locusts to breed and thrive, including ●properly moist soils for them to lay eggs in milli8

ons before migrat●ion and the consequent lush vegetation to eat, according to the FAO●. Climate change was to blame for the unusually plentiful rainfall ●on the African continent. Keith Cressman, the FAO's senior locust f●orecasting officer, further identified the recent cyclones as anoth●er factor behind the locust crisis, saying the past 10 years saw in●creased frequency of cyclones in the Indian Ocean. A swarm of dese●rt locusts invade parts of Mwingi Town in Kitui County, Kenya, Feb.● 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Yu) AGGRAVATING FOOD INSECURITY FAO offici●als said the locust outbreak has worsened the food insecurity in Af●rica, citing some 239 million people in sub-Saharan Africa sufferin●g from hunger and malnutrition, and over 20 million having already ●been in food crisis in Horn of Africa countries. UN Undersecretary-●General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, ●Mark Lowcock, said the current situation "is really, really challen●ging." "There are currently over 30 million people in the affected ●countries, who are severely food insecure now. Ten million of those● people are in the places affected by the locusts. Unless we get a ●grip of this in the next two or three or four weeks, we would have ●a serious problem," he stressed. To avoid a famine, University of N●airobi professor Evaristus Irandu said the government may have to u●se the scarce foreign currency to import food prL

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