Dramatic images of a motorist driving through a huge swarm of locusts in Kenya have emphasized the crisis in Africa, while the United Nations warned that time is running out.
The shocked driver sounds disbelieving as the insects blacken the sky and surround his car as he drives through the landscape.
The video was created when UN officials warned the international community that immediate action was needed to stop a humanitarian disaster.
It is feared that a 40-mile-wide swarm of 360 billion grasshoppers could become 500 times larger in the coming four months.
A driver in Kenya posted a video after being driven through a huge swarm of locusts
The swarm appeared on the horizon like a cloud before he flooded his vehicle while he was driving
The desert locusts have already decimated vital crops in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya and damaged agricultural land in Djibouti and Eritrea before flying to Uganda and Tanzania this weekend.
Mark Lowcock, the UN emergency coordinator, said: “In this region where there is so much suffering and so much vulnerability and vulnerability, we simply cannot afford another big shock. And that is why we must act quickly. “
He added: “We have a chance to nip this problem in the bud, but that is not currently what we do. We hardly have any time left.
‘I call on the countries involved, the international community, the donors to go a step further now.
“There is a risk of a catastrophe. Maybe we can prevent it; we are obliged to try. Unless we act now, we are unlikely to do that. “
A forest ranger is surrounded by locusts in Nasuulu, Northern Kenya, where crops have been decimated
The swarm started in Eastern Ethiopia and Central Somalia last year before the insects spread across Ethiopia and Kenya. Pictured: locusts jump over the ground like ants in Somalia
FAO Director General Qu Dongyu warned in a video message: “Without rapid action, we will face a rapidly expanding humanitarian crisis. The desert locusts grow exponentially. “
The UN has asked for £ 58.5 million in immediate aid.
So far it has just under £ 15.5 million. The United States said on Monday that it has released $ 800,000 (£ 616,000) and the European Union has released one million euros (£ 840,000).
One of the swarms – which can count up to 80 million individuals per square kilometer – has been seen 50 km from the border with South Sudan and is expected to reach the country “every day.”
More than 13 million people face serious food insecurity, since Africa has been experiencing its first locust plague since 1989.
Cressman told me The national on Monday that Kenya has been dealing with ‘waves and waves swarming’ since January.
He said: “A swarm in one day can eat the same amount of food as everyone here in the three-state region, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. So don’t take action on time – you see the consequences. “
Uganda held an emergency meeting after the insects were seen and ordered two planes to spray pesticides over the affected area – which is considered the most effective form of control.
The locust swarm started in Eastern Ethiopia and Central Somalia before it spread to Kenya and now entered Northeast Uganda (pictured above)
Africa’s last major locust plague swept through the region in 1987 to 89. Above is a group of adult locusts, as seen by their wings, in Nasuulu, Northern Kenya, on February 1
Pesticides have also been used in Kenya and Somalia in a desperate attempt to stop the spread of insects, but experts say the contagion scale exceeds local capacity because desert locusts can travel up to 150 km per day.
Cressman also said that the UN should test drones equipped with mapping sensors and sprayers to spray pesticides in an effort to save crops.
He said that specially developed prototypes would be tested that could detect swarms via special sensors and adjust their speed and height accordingly.
He said, “No one has ever done this with desert locusts.”
A soldier from the Defense of Uganda People is holding a grasshopper after the swarm has spread to the country
Kenyan authorities have deployed pesticides sprayed from planes in a desperate attempt to control the swarm. This aircraft was displayed on February 1 in Nasuulu, Northern Kenya
Officials in Kenya say that drones can play an important role due to the limited number of aircraft.
“Every province wants a plane, but we currently have only five and they can only be in one location at a time,” said David Mwangi, head of crop protection at the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture.
“We’ve never used drones before, but I think it’s worth testing because they can help.”
In Somalia, tackling the problem becomes even more difficult because large areas are threatened or in the hands of the extremist Al-Qaeda group. This makes it difficult or impossible to carry out the spraying of locusts from the air, the only effective regulation of which is according to experts.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, called on Saturday for more help from the rest of the world.
He said: “The UN has made an urgent call for help. I ask the international community to respond quickly and generously to ensure an effective response and control the contamination while we still have the opportunity. “
The swarm of desert locusts, which usually live lonely until a combination of circumstances promotes breeding and leads to massive swarms, began in Eastern Ethiopia and Central Somalia last year before spreading through both countries and traveling to Kenya.