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Africa locust plague: New app launched to battle swarms

Locusts on a tree in the Turkana region of northern Kenya on July 2, 2O2O.
Locusts on a tree in the Turkana region of northern Kenya on July 2, 2O2O. © Reuters / France 24
1 min

Vast numbers of locusts have been swarming across East Africa in recent months, devastating crops and threatening food security in the region. Now, authorities are hoping a new app could help them gain the upper hand in their battle against the pests.

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Called E-Locusts, the app allows a team of ‘locust scouts’ to track the swarms and provide real-time information on their size and location.

“I go look for locusts where they are, I report, I take pictures, I upload videos of their movement and also advise them which kind of control can be used,” Achilo Christopher, a locust scout in the Turkana region of northern Kenya, told Reuters.

The information is logged in a central database and analysed by technical teams who can then decide what action to take including whether to spray pesticides either by plane or with ground teams.

The app was launched by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation in response to growing fears the locust infestations are threatening food security in the region.

The current locust infestation is the worst that's been seen for three generations, with unseasonably wet weather helping them to breed in greater numbers than usual.

Since late 2019, billions of the insects have ravaged crops in countries including Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia and spread into India, Pakistan and the Red Sea region.

An average locust swarm of around 40 million insects can travel up to 150 km a day and consume enough food in that time to feed 35,000 people.

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