East Africa is reportedly experiencing its worst locust outbreak in the last seven decades. Now, the invasion of the pests has spread to South Sudan, a country with a dire hunger problem.
AP News reports South Sudan’s Minister of Agriculture, Onyoti Adigo, confirmed they have spotted “around 2,000 locusts in the country.”
The pests have been prevalent in the state known as Eastern Equatoria on South Sudan’s borders with Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.
The other countries have also been affected by the locust outbreak. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Monday added Eritrea and Sudan among those affected.
The FAO’s country representative in South Sudan, Meshack Malo, was quoted as saying “if we are not able to deal with them… it will be a problem”.
After a turbulent recent history, South Sudan is perhaps the least prepared country to fight a locust invasion. Close to half of its population, about five million people, have no food security.
Some 860,000 children too, according to the UN, are malnourished in the country.
Experts have alluded to climate change as one of the reasons the current situation is one of the worst in decades. Aerial spraying has been advised as the best way to overcome the problem.
Drier weather is expected later in the year and it is a turn experts have warned would only mean the number of locusts will grow. This is because if the rains come now and plants grow, the insects would have more to feed on.
The UN puts the cost of fighting the locust invasion at about $76 million.