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Republic of Korea provides vital funds to help WFP tackle impact of locust outbreak

SEOUL/ROME – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received US$ 3 million from the Republic of Korea to help address the impacts of the desert locust outbreak in East Africa. The donation will provide a much-needed boost to several WFP operations where vulnerable communities are struggling with the impact that the desert locusts have had on their food security and livelihoods, as well as the triple threat of conflict, climate change and the socio-economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The contribution will enable WFP to provide cash-based transfers and other support to smallholder farmers who are most at risk of food insecurity due to the crisis in nine countries facing down the threat of locusts: Ethiopia, Kenya, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Yemen.


“ROK’s contribution comes at a time when WFP is facing an unprecedented increase in needs as the pandemic continues to unfold and we gain greater understanding of its devastating socio-economic impact,” said Karin Manente, the Director of WFP Public Partnerships and Resourcing. “This contribution will support WFP’s continued efforts to assist countries not only fighting the pandemic, but also facing food shortages due to desert locusts.”


The desert locust is considered the most dangerous migratory pest in the world. The current locust upsurge originated from uncontrolled swarms in the Arabian Peninsula that crossed into the Horn of Africa in June 2019 and spread quickly through the region due to above-average rains from October to December 2019.


A typical locust swarm can consist of 150 million locusts per km2 - a one km2 swarm has the capacity to consume the equivalent in crops to feed 35,000 people. Locust swarms can move quickly, covering 100-150 km a day, spreading quickly and complicating control measures.


The current upsurge, which started in 2019, is the worst in 25 years in Ethiopia and Somalia, and the worst in 70 years in Kenya, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which leads the locust response.


WFP has estimated the cost of responding to the impact of locusts on food security alone could be 15 times higher than the cost of preventing their spread beforehand. While WFP is not directly part of locust control operations - which are led by FAO – it has provided vehicles to governments to monitor swarms, and supports communities whose food security has been adversely affected by the locusts.



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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.


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Republic of Korea Funding


KG Sohn, WFP/ Seoul, Office. +82 28739579
James Belgrave, WFP/ Rome, Mob. +39 366 529 4297