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Insect concerns: Ethiopia battles locusts, Malawi fights tsetse flies

Insect concerns: Ethiopia battles locusts, Malawi fights tsetse flies

Africa

<p>A number of African countries are suffering the impact of insect invasions that are threatening food production and livestock production. </p> <p>To the east, Ethiopia is battling locust invasion whiles further south, Malawi is dealing with tsetse fly attack on local populations after elephants were relocated from a wildlife reserve.</p> <h2 style="font-size:16px;"> Ethiopia and the desert locust invasion </h2> <p>Ethiopia is working to contain a locust invasion that according to reports affects about four regions of the Horn of Africa nation. The affected regions are Afar, Oromia, Somalia and Amhara regions.</p> <p>Authorities resorted to the use of aerial spraying of large fields to control the spread and damage caused by the insects believed to be migratory in nature.</p> <p>The privately-owned <a href="https://addisstandard.com/news-desert-locusts-threaten-agricultural-production-in-ethiopia/">Addis Standard portal</a> wrote in a report: “Migrating from Yemen through Djibouti and Somaliland, Desert Locust swarms entered Ethiopia and settled in the breeding sites in Afar, Amhara, Oromia and Somalia regions. </p> <p>“The swarms have produced hopper bands that have covered more than 174 square kilometer (in 56 Woredas and 1 085 kebeles) and are consuming approximately 8700 metric tons of green vegetation every day. It is estimated that about 30 million hoppers can land on one-kilometer square area.”</p> <p>Zebdewos Salato, Director of Plant Protection in the Ministry of Agriculture is quoted to have cautioned thus: “The swarms are likely to invade wider areas and cause significant crop, pasture and forest cover losses in eastern Ethiopia.” </p> <p>To date, the insects have covered 17 370 out of the 28 671 hectares surveyed between July and September 2019.</p> <p>In July 2019, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, <span class="caps">FAO</span>, warned that Desert Locust summer breeding, buoyed by heavy rains, could pose a serious threat to agricultural production in Yemen, Sudan, Eritrea, parts of Ethiopia and northern Somalia. </p> <p>The Organization called on all countries to monitor the field conditions by mounting regular ground surveys and undertaking the necessary control measures whenever infestations were detected.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ethiopia?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Ethiopia</a> launches aerial spray to battle desert locust infestation <a href="https://t.co/dMBGSr2rzO">https://t.co/dMBGSr2rzO</a> The desert locust swarms migrated from the M. East through <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Yemen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Yemen</a> & <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Somaliland?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Somaliland</a> posed a threat in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Tigray?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Tigray</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Afar?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Afar</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Somali?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Somali</a> & <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Amhara?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Amhara</a> regional states as well as <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DireDawa?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DireDawa</a> city administration <a href="https://t.co/EImP6i2jLe">pic.twitter.com/EImP6i2jLe</a></p>— Addis Standard (@addisstandard) <a href="https://twitter.com/addisstandard/status/1189484084516528128?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 30, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 style="font-size:16px;"> Malawi fights tsetse flies, disease after wildlife relocated </h2> <p>The relocation of hundreds of elephants to Malawi’s largest wildlife reserve was meant to be a sign of hope and renewal in this southern African nation. Then nearby residents began falling ill.</p> <p>The cause of the headaches, weakness and pain were trypanosomes, tiny parasites spread by the bite of the tsetste fly — a companion of the elephants. Trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, is the result.</p> <p>Local families described the toll the disease can take.</p> <p>“I feel too weak,” said Chiomba Njati, who was still recovering after a week in the hospital. He said he was bitten while farming near the wildlife reserve. “I cannot even carry a hoe and farm. The home is lacking food and other important things because it is my wife doing everything on her own. This is so worrying.”</p> <p>Authorities said the Nkhotakota wildlife reserve has seen a surge in tsetse fly numbers since around 2015 when the elephants and other game animals were reintroduced.</p> <p>The local hospital said it did not have a number of sleeping sickness cases. One community resident, Group Village Ngondo, recalled at least five deaths from the disease.</p> <p>The World Health Organization says sleeping sickness is endemic in 36 countries in sub-Saharan Africa but cases have been dropping. Last year just under 1,000 cases were recorded, a new low. The majority of cases are reported in Congo.</p> <p>The disease is “notoriously difficult to treat” with drugs and easier to treat when caught early, <span class="caps">WHO</span> says. The health agency says it is usually fatal when untreated as the parasite moves into the central nervous system and eventually can cause seizures and coma.</p>

The swarms are likely to invade wider areas and cause significant crop, pasture and forest cover losses in eastern Ethiopia.