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UN agencies join forces to help Yemen battle locust outbreaks

UN agencies join forces to help Yemen battle locust outbreaks

Desert locust
Two United Nations agencies are facilitating the donation of pesticides from Mauritania to Yemen in a bid to help the country deal with its worst locust outbreak in nearly 15 years.

The donated chemicals were transported by air to Yemen in a joint operation between the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the agencies announced in a news release. The pesticide will be used in an intensive campaign to prevent massive locust infestations and serious damage to food crops in Yemen and neighbouring countries.

“The pesticide donation made by Mauritania shows the country's commitment to the global control of Desert Locust. With the arrival of aircraft and pesticides, a massive control campaign can be launched over a large and remote area of rough terrain,” said FAO locust expert Christian Pantenius. “This should help to minimize the locust threat to local crops in most affected areas and to neighbouring countries.”

“It is vital to work fast to minimize the crop damage that these locusts cause and its impact on already vulnerable communities,” cautioned Mohamed El-Kouhene, WFP Representative in Yemen.

An aircraft leased by WFP on behalf of FAO arrived in Sana'a on Saturday carrying 35,000 litres of pesticides donated by the government of Mauritania. In addition, an agricultural spray plane chartered by FAO will be arriving in Sana'a within the next few days for locust control in the interior of Yemen.

Overall, up to approximately 75,000 hectares infested by locusts may have to be treated through air and ground control for which FAO has leased vehicles from WFP's logistics centre in Dubai, the agencies said.

The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has provided $2.4 million to FAO to support the government of Yemen's control of the Desert Locust over the next three months. The funds will support aircraft, pesticide, equipment, vehicles, and locust control and logistics experts.