Pastor Calls for Prayer as Terrifying 100,000-Acre Swarm of Locusts Enters Uganda

April 7, 2020

A local pastor called for prayer as he reported, on 6 April, the arrival of a vast swarm of young desert locusts, estimated to cover an area of 100,000 acres (40,500 hectares), in north-eastern Uganda.

The upsurge that was predicted to arrive late April or May has already become a reality in early April. The immature locusts migrated in a dense swarm from Kenya, crossing the border at Karita sub-county, spreading to settle in the Karamoja region, Nakapiripirit district.

“Please continue in prayer for the Christians in Karamoja,” asked a pastor in the region as he told Barnabas that the fresh invasion comes at the “worst possible time”, when farmers in the region are planting new crops in the hope of a much needed harvest in a few months’ time. The ravenous insects are already destroying recently planted staple crops including maize, beans, millet and sorghum.

Severe food shortages are anticipated in north-eastern Uganda as a huge swarm of young locusts descends and devours young crops [image credit: ©FAO/Sven Torfinn]

“Because these locusts are still young, they are much more dangerous than the previous ones. Their lifespan is still long and they have the capacity to eat and destroy anything that they come across,” the pastor warned. He added that, with the government resources stretched in mitigating the coronavirus crisis, concerns are growing that the population will suffer even more severely from food shortages.

With the country now battling to contain the coronavirus pandemic, it has been difficult for regional authorities to effectively track the movement of the locusts. Ugandan soldiers were deployed to contain the infestation with a campaign of insecticide spaying in several villages in Nakapiripirit district. However, their attempts were thwarted because the swarm is in continuous motion, often at altitudes beyond the reach of the spray.

The desert locusts first invaded Uganda on 19 January 2020, entering the country through the same routes. The authorities had managed to contain this earlier infestation by hand spraying. The emerging second wave of the locust plague remains extremely alarming in East Africa, particularly in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia where widespread breeding is progressing rapidly. New swarms are now forming and representing an “unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods”, according to The Food Security Cluster (FSC).

From Barnabas Fund contacts and other sources

Related Countries

Uganda