THE PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS
AFRICA - AUSTRALIA
compiled by Dee Finney
|12-12-03 - DREAM - I was working in a large office. I
wasn't doing anything very important at the moment, but I felt I wanted
to do something fun and exciting, so I decided it would be fun to put on
a show like Mickey Rooney always said when he was a kid in the movies,
"Lets put on a show." and everyone would dress up funny and do
characters and get up on the stage and do a funny song and dance. I
wanted to do 'Pretty Woman' or 'You'll be My Woman'. I had the music at
I actually visualized some character on a stage with huge hair - one with straw sticking out of his shirt sleeves like a Hill Billy. It just seemed like so much fun.
While I was sitting there, it was almost noon and I wanted to go to lunch and get the music for the show, but two engineers came by and asked me to give an envelope to a salesman when he came in. His name was Balert or Boehlert or something like that. So I agreed even though I wanted to leave for lunch myself.
As soon as the guys left, a young woman came by. She said she was babysitting a baby I usually take care of and right now I swear it was a large female lion cub and she had her on a leash. She was taking her to her own apartment. I think this woman's name was Ruth.
At the same time, she gave me a handful of gold keys with really fancy handles. I thought I'd be smart and duplicate these keys so I'd have an extra copy for myself, but then I realized you can't duplicate the keys unless you have the right key blank including the handle part and these were huge fancy gold handles.
But I had the originals, so I stuck them in a golden-brown envelope and put them in my purse. It made my purse really heavy to carry, but these were precious keys.
I turned around after I put the keys in my purse and a short, fat little man was sitting on a bench behind me. I hadn't seen him come in. He looked like a little dark Arab man - on the order of like Danny Divito.
I asked him if he was Mr. Boelhert and he said he was., so I handed him the envelope the engineers had left with me. I told him there was a nice little order in it. He thanked me for it. I expected him to leave right away, but instead, he ran over to another desk and grabbed a dish of sugar that was sitting there. He tried shoving the whole thing in his mouth like he was starving to death.
I got kind of mad at him for trying to steal the sugar, so I shoved the coffee creamer and then my brown bag lunch in his face too. All my olives fell out of the bag and I shoved those into my own mouth and thats what my mouth tasted like when I woke up.
So the man just stood there, eating the food as fast as he could. He was starving.
Then a little Arab girl came by and I told her I had been to lunch with her brother and asked her if she'd like to go to lunch with me.
She said, "Yes!"
I looked out the window and saw a brown desert and a strange wind blowing across the dunes and then I recognized what it really was - "Locusts". A plague of locusts was coming out of the desert. I saw a couple of big ones against the window.
I knew it was dangerous situation, so I grabbed her and all her stuff and my purse full of keys and I actually dragged her and half carried her to my apartment where I knew the locusts couldn't get in.
LOCUSTS IN AFRICA
Donors offer extra $40m to fight locusts in west Africa
Sept. 18, 2004
ROME - Donor nations have pledged an additional $40m (about R264m) to help fight a devastating locust invasion in west Africa, but urgent action is now needed to tackle the crisis, the head of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation said yesterday.
"At a meeting on Friday, donor countries committed to rapidly make available $16m already pledged and announced that they will raise another $40m," said Jacques Diouf, FAO chief.
Of the $16m promised earlier by donor nations, the FAO had as of two days ago received only $2m, along with another $2m from the US, he said.
The FAO had 45 days to act, until the end of October, Diouf said. After that deadline any action was likely to be too late and the plague of locusts would worsen.
Between three and four million hectares of crops have been shredded by the insects in west Africa. Senegal, Mauritania, Mali and Niger have been the hardest hit. In Mauritania alone about 1,6 million hectares of land have been devastated.
Diouf stressed that as much as a quarter of the entire harvest could be lost in a region where about 25 percent of the population already does not have enough to eat. - Sapa-AFP
In West Africa - Breeding Continues, New Swarms Form
Joe De Capua
16 Sep 2004, 17:10 UTC
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says widespread breeding of desert locusts continues in West Africa and new swarms are being formed. And the FAO says the outlook for next spring indicates infestations may be even worse.
Dr. Clive Elliot of the FAO’s Emergency Center for Locust Operations says the first half of September saw no let-up of locust breeding in the Sahel.
He says, "The breeding is definitely very widespread in Mauritania, Senegal, Mali and Niger. And what is more, the rains have begun to develop in the central part of Mauritania and new breeding has started there."
New swarms are now forming in southeastern Mauritania, while new swarms are expected in Senegal in about a week.
"Those young swarms, which first develop after a breeding cycle, are well known for being particularly voracious and eating a great deal of course of natural vegetation and crops. And therefore they are a threat to the crops in the area," he says.
Dr. Elliot says the young locusts will spend a few weeks developing and getting stronger. Then, they’ll be on the move.
He says, "There are two possible directions. They will start moving into the north of Mauritania and they will also be a proportion of the swarms which will move through what we call the southern circuit, which takes them through the southern part of Senegal into Guinea Bissau and possibly as far as Guinea."
Patchy rains in eastern Chad may be preventing a locust swarm there from entering Sudan. The conditions may be less favorable for breeding. At last report the swarm was about a hundred kilometers from the Sudanese border.
Aerial spraying continues and has protected crops. However, it has not had a major impact yet on controlling the swarms. Nevertheless, the FAO says, “With the expansion of aerial spraying capacity currently underway, the rate of control is likely to increase considerably.”
Meanwhile, the World Food Program is assessing crop damage after many months of locust infestations to determine how much food aid may be needed.
The locust problem is not expected to end any time soon. The FAO’s Dr. Elliot says the forecast for Spring 2005 has been released.
"Well, the forecast is not very optimistic. So, one cannot help but be worried that the problem is going to be certainly as severe as last year in Northwest Africa if not worse," he says.
The FAO says under favorable breeding conditions, swarms could arrive next spring in Libya and the traditional breeding grounds in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
ROME, Sept 17 (Reuters) - The United States accused the U.N. agriculture body on Friday of mismanaging the locust crisis afflicting vast swathes of West Africa.
The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said the Rome-based group had been slow to respond to the emergency, failing to put experts in the field and failing to allocate its funds properly.
"I think the ball has been dropped and I'm disappointed by what I've seen, by this lack of urgency," ambassador Tony Hall told Reuters in an interview.
Speaking to reporters earlier, FAO Director General Jacques Diouf defended his organisation's handling of the worst plague crisis in 15 years, saying the problem lay with donor countries failing to come through on cash pledges.
FAO experts say the locust emergency in Mauritania, Senegal, Mali and Niger is expected to deteriorate over the next few weeks, with a serious risk that northwest Africa will be reinvaded by swarms of insects from October onwards.
A locust swarm can contain billions of insects and fly more than 3,500 km (2,175 miles) in a month. A small part of an average swarm eats as much food in one day as 2,500 people.
The U.N. believes that locusts have infested between 3 and 4 million hectares of land -- an area as large as the Netherlands -- and destroyed up to 25 percent of summer harvests.
It says it needs $100 million to overcome the disaster.
The FAO first raised the alarm over the locust problem last October, but Diouf said by the start of this week he had received only $2 million in emergency funds. The United States has since provided a further $2 million and Diouf said donor nations at a conference on Friday had promised $40 million. "The reaction in terms of pledges is positive ... but the pledges have to materialise," he told a news conference.
"We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Countries announce that they have allocated money from their budgets and the affected areas say 'come on FAO, do something'. As soon as money comes in we can spend it, but you can't invent money."
Hall said the United States gave FAO an initial grant of $800,000 last year to tackle the locusts, but that as of last week, only half of that money had been spent.
Up until Sept. 1, FAO dispatched just two experts to West Africa and set up an emergency locust committee only last week, he added.
"Our people (in Africa) are telling us that the leadership is lacking down there and they want to see more action from the FAO," he said, warning that donors might decide in future to bypass the FAO and send funds direct to the afflicted nations.
The last plague crisis hit Africa in 1987-89 and cost some $500 million to bring under control. Since then, FAO has set up an early warning system to monitor locust populations.
Diouf said this system had worked well. "The trouble is that
(nations) only tend to react when the crisis is right in front of them
and the media is sending images (of swarms) back home."
Senegal: Locusts Eat Houses As Well As Crops And PastureUN Integrated Regional Information Networks
September 15, 2004
In the far north of Senegal, swarms of voracious locust larvae are not just devouring crops and pasture. They are also munching their way through the straw huts of local farmers.
"Look at my house, it is infested with larvae," said Abdoulaye Diop, a farmer in the tiny village of Teneye, close to the Mauritanian border. Thousands of the black insects were crawling up its flimsy walls.
Outside, they had already finished off most of Diop's 12 hectares of maize, cassava and potatoes. The flightless larvae advanced like a slow-moving tide of relentless destruction, stripping one row of plants of its leaves after another.
The sandy ground around Teneye was littered with dead locust larvae.
These insects had hatched from eggs laid by swarms of mature yellow locusts which descended on the village during August. However, the inhabitants of Teneye had managed to kill the larvae by dusting them with sacks of insecticide powder handed out by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Diop said the problem was that the 25 sacks of powder were now exhausted, but the locusts still kept on coming.
He had therefore travelled to seek further help from the locust control centre at Richard Toll, a town in the Senegal river valley, 20 km away.
Mbaye Thiam, an agriculture ministry official drafted into the military-led anti-locust campaign had come back with him to Teneye to assess the situation.
"Third and fourth stage larvae", he said laconically. "We see this every single day."
Locust larvae are easier to treat than winged adults
The larvae go through five stages of growth between hatching from an egg and growing wings to become a fully-fledged locust three weeks later. Stage five is the final period when they are at their most destructive.
The flightless locust larvae form highly destructive hopper bands that achieve concentrations of up to 10,000 insects per square metre.
The hopper bands do a lot of damage. But they are much easier to kill than the swarms of fully fledged flying locusts which can move over 100 km per day.
The problem is that as West Africa suffers its worst locust invasion for 15 years, there is not enough insecticide to go round and there are not enough spraying teams to reach each hopper band before it takes to the air to join a new swarm of mature locusts.
Each insect weighs up to two grammes and can eat its own weight in vegetation every day. And since the swarms often number several hundred million insects, their destructive power is awesome.
Agriculture Ministry officials in Richard Toll said they only had enough teams and enough insecticide to treat the very worst cases of infestation and could not meet all the demands placed upon them.
But that is little consolation for the farmers of Teneye and dozens of other villages in the semi-arid region, who face famine unless they can harvest a decent crop of food at the end of the current rainy season.
"We live from our crops, and when we are deprived from them, it is hunger which awaits us," Diop said in a worried tone.
Within five minutes, Thiam had seen more than enough of the situation at Teneye and headed back to base, saying his department would do its utmost to help the villagers.
Driving back to Richard Toll in the company of a visiting IRIN correspondent, he saw even more hopper bands stripping cassava fields bare of their greenery. Sometimes the rippling bands of black insects covered the dirt road ahead and Thiam's four-wheel drive vehicle scrunched thousands of them under its tyres as it passed.
Poor communications hinder control work
But Thiam was unable to tell the prospection and spraying teams immediately where to find them.
"The teams on the ground have no radios, which are fundamental in the fight against locusts," he complained. They are obliged to use public phones. As for me, I use my private cell phone, but I have to wait till the evening to inform my colleagues of what I have seen."
Back in Richard Toll, a town set amidst plantations of rice and sugar cane in the Senegal river valley, several delegations of worried farmers from outlying villages were queuing up at the locust control centre to report new infestations and plead for government assistance.
The town is one of seven bases in Senegal from which Agriculture Ministry officials, helped by thousands of soldiers and firemen and control teams sent from Morocco, Algeria and Libya, are trying to win the war against locusts.
But they are fighting against heavy odds.
In the tatty Agriculture Ministry compound at Richard Toll, Paul Diouf, the Director of the local plant protection unit, said he was overwhelmed.
"With the locust invasion, we work from early morning to late night. We work on Saturdays and Sundays," Diouf said.
The Richard Toll base is in charge of plant protection in the regions of Saint Louis and Louga, in the northwest of Senegal, which have been invaded by locusts since early July.
Its staff has been bolstered by a team of 25 soldiers and a detachment of firemen. But between them they only have three four-wheel drive vehicles, 16 motorised pumps worn as back-packs and one crop-spraying aircraft, which is on loan from the local sugar company.
Another crop dusting aircraft sent from Morocco is due to arrive shortly.
"In 15 years of fighting locusts, I have never seen anything like this!" Hassamiou Sanghott, the deputy director of the base told IRIN. "In 1988, the invasion was restricted to the regions of Saint Louis, Linguere and Bakel, but this year seven of the regions out of eleven regions in the country have been affected! "
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported last week that 300,000 hectares of farmland had been invaded by locusts in Senegal, but only a third of that area had been treated. A total of 750,000 hectares in Senegal would have to be sprayed in the near future, it added.
In Mauritania, which borders Senegal to the north, the situation is even worse. An estimated 1.6 million hectares of land there have been invaded by locusts, prompting government officials to warn of famine unless food aid arrives quickly.
Mali and Niger are also badly affected.
Equipment and insecticide shortages lead to slow response
In northern Senegal, where it sometimes takes locust control teams a week or more to respond to appeals for assistance, some farmers have already abandoned their fields after suffering total crop destruction.
"We cannot be everywhere at the same time given the magnitude of the infestation," Diouf said. He stressed that his men were short of everything from pesticides and radios to vehicles and fuel.
He complained that even his lone plane, which can spray up to 4,800 hectares per day, had been sent to Podor, a town 100 km further east, where the scale of infestation was even worse.
"We have to give priority to areas such as Podor where the larvae have reached stage five, meaning they will achieve maturity in about 20 days and mate to produce a new generation of insects by mid-October," Diouf said.
Some farmers who have no access to insecticide have resorted to digging trenches and sweeping the hopper bands into them to bury the insects alive before they eat all the plants in their fields.
But still the larvae continue their relentless advance, destroying houses and polluting wells when there is no more greenery left to feed on.
"Yesterday, in the villages of Niassante and Mbellon, 50 km from here, the prospection teams noted that fields had been abandoned," Diouf said.
"In the village of Belynamary, about 60 km from here, masses of locusts fell into the well polluting it and forcing the villagers to go and fetch water elsewhere," he added. "In some places, people complained that the locusts had started eating their houses."
As Diouf spoke, his phone rang continuously and one delegation of worried villagers after another trouped into his tiny office to report new instances of crop damage and request government help.
"Only pesticides can help us save the crops"
Hamedine Kane said he had travelled 50 km over dirt roads by bus from his remote village of Sare Lamou to Richard Toll to request help.
"Larvae are everywhere, on the crops, on the pasture, even in our houses", the peasant farmer told Diouf in desperate tones. "In every field they visited, they ate everything they found, even the grass".
"We have dug trenches to bury them, used sticks to drive them away, but they are so numerous that it makes no difference. Only pesticides can help us save the crops that have not been attacked yet", he added.
Diouf took note of Kane's grievances, assuring him that a team would visit his village as soon as possible.
But privately, he admitted that it would probably be a week before he could spray the area, and only then if the crop-dusting plane promised by Morocco arrived on time.
As soon as Kane left, delegations from three other villages entered Diouf's office, pleading for help.
Souleymane Diao, from the village of Thiago, 11 km from Richard Toll, said a swarm of mature yellow locusts had descended on his three hectares of watermelons the day beforehand, destroying the crop completely.
"I had spent 90,000 CFA francs ($170) on seeds and weed control and I was expecting to sell the crop for 4.3 million CFA ($8,000) by the month of November. But they ate everything. Now I have to buy more seeds and fertilizer if I am to get anything at all by Mid-December," he told IRIN.
The tragedy is that locusts are destroying what would otherwise have been a bumper crop this year.
The rains, which began in some parts of the Sahel in June, have been plentiful and well distributed for the second year running.
Locusts could destroy 25 percent of Sahel crops
Agricultural experts of the Inter-state Committee to Fight Drought in the Sahel (CILSS) meeting in Dakar last week said the organisation's nine member states should normally have expected a grain crop of 11 to 14 million tonnes, following last year's record harvest of 14.3 million.
But they warned that the locust invasion could cut output across the region by up to 25 percent, dashing hopes of a food surplus and raising fears of localised severe shortages.
President Abdoulaye Wade has estimated that locusts could cause up to US$500 million of damage to agricultural production in Senegal this year.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has appealed for US$100 million of aid to bring the locust plague under control.
But while Senegalese farmers clamour for more insecticide powder to dust on the insects themselves, FAO officials are reluctant to give it to them, because of the dangerous levels of toxic chemicals it leaves in the soil in local water supplies.
They point out that it requires 12 kg of insecticide powder to treat one hectare, but only one litre of liquid insecticide sprayed from a plane or by ground teams using motorised pumps.
Task Force Formed to Fight Locusts
The Monitor (Kampala)
September 12, 2004
A task force has been formed to fight desert locusts should they invade Uganda. The Commissioner Crop Protection in Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Komayombi Bulegeya, on Friday said security personnel, aviation experts, his staff were on standby".
Although the locusts have not been seen in Uganda, the government recently directed the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Mr David Obong, to form the task force.
Bulegeya told The Monitor in Entebbe that Uganda was at high risk of being invaded by locusts due to its central location from North and West Africa.
This was after the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) recently reported that desert locusts had invaded North Western Mauritania, Northern Niger, North-Eastern Sudan and warned neighbouring countries to be on alert fearing they could cross borders.
Bulegeya said part of the task force was deployed to monitor the northern border.
Niger: Locusts Head Towards Southern Crop LandsUN Integrated Regional Information Networks
September 3, 2004
The swarms of locusts which have swept into Niger over the past two months have not yet seriously affected arable land in the far southwest of the mainly desert country, government officials said.
But they told IRIN that the insects were breeding in large numbers on the southern fringes of the Sahara desert in the far west of Niger and were heading southwards towards the country's main millet growing areas all the time.
"The first locust swarms arrived at the end of the second week of July in the zones of Tassara, Tahoua and the south of Tamesna (near the western border with Mali)», Mamana Sani Moudy, the director of crop protection at the Agriculture Ministry told IRIN on Thursday.
"The locust situation evolves daily. We continue treating hatching and hopper bands in the south of Tamesna, but the areas involved are huge", Moudy said.
Tamesna is a desert area situated near the point where the frontiers of Niger, Mali and Algeria meet.
Moudy said the locusts had not so far reached Niger's main crop-growing area along the Niger valley in the far southwest of the country. But he stressed that the government desperately needed more vehicles and insecticide to boost its control efforts.
He said the government had so far deployed 22 teams on the ground to search for swarms of locusts and spray them with insecticide.
These teams, which include three sent from neighbouring Algeria, were tracking locust swarms along a line from Tillabery, on the Niger river 120 km northwest of Niamey, to Diffa province on the eastern border with Chad, he added.
The director of crop protection said the government also had three planes at its disposal, which were capable of treating 120,000 hectares per month.
However, so far the authorities had treated just under 9,000 hectares of land invaded by locusts and concentrations of their black flightless lavrae, known as hopper bands.
"We currently have 151,000 litres of pesticide available, whereas we need 750,000 litres », Moudy said. "We also need 12 additional vehicles."
One litre of liquid insecticide, when diluted, is enough to treat one hectare of land against the voracious insects which can eat their own weight of food in one day.
Yahaya Garba, Niger's national coordinator for the fight against locusts, warned last week that the steady southwards advance of the insects was continuing.
"Several swarms coming from the north have been reported in the administrative posts of Assamaka and Tassara, heading towards the agricultural zones", he said.
Land-locked Niger is the largest state in West Africa. Its 12 million population is concentrated in the far south of the country and is mainly dependent on subsistence agriculture. Two thirds of Niger is empty desert.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in its Desert Locust Bulletin for August that it expected hopper bands to continue developing in the Tamesna district.
It predicted that these would evolve into new swarms of mature winged locusts which would take to the air during September and spread to the Air mountains of north central Niger.
Last Tuesday, West African government ministers and military chiefs met in Dakar and decided that Agadez, a town in central Niger at the southern end of the Air massif, should become one of five principal locust control centres in the Sahel region with upgraded facilities.
Moudy said the operational requirements of the locust control campaign in Niger were rising all the time and estimates given to donors at a meeting in Algiers at the end of July were already obsolete.
"In Algiers, we asked for 263 million CFA francs (US$5,3 million) for operations and equipment. The situation has worsened since then and in Dakar we readjusted our requirements, asking for more personnel, transport, treatment and communications equipment", Moudy said.
In Dakar, the governments of 13 countries in North and West Africa launched a fresh appeal for immediate international assistance to help them deal with a plague of locusts that has developed following exceptionally heavy rainfall in the Sahel last year.
Donors have so far contributed US37 million of the $100 million called for by Jacques Diouf, the director general of the FAO, during a visit to Dakar last month and the FAO has offered to disburse $16 million of this immediately.
"Using the US$16 million of funds which we have at our disposal, the FAO has ordered pesticides and is ready to hire planes, purchase vehicles and cover general costs in the affected countries this month already", Hilde Niggeman, the head of emergency programmes at FAO, told IRIN on Friday.
Diouf said in a statement on Thursday: "To make a real impact in the battle to control the desert locust upsurge, help must arrive this month in order to disrupt the next locust breeding cycle in October".
Sept. 17, 2004
Australia begins to fight its biggest plague of locusts in decades.
Australia begins to fight its biggest plague of locusts in
decades. Billions of baby locusts are threatening to develop into
a major plague in Australia. The insects hatch along a wide area
covering much of the country’s central east.
locusts show signs of stirring on farms near city
Wednesday, 15 September 2004
The first significant locust hatchings have been reported on a property south of Collie, 60 kilometres north-west of Dubbo.
The Dubbo Rural Lands Protection Board (RLBP) said it received a sighting report from Dave Thompson's property 'Milpa' earlier this week.
RLPB senior ranger Mick Ryan said although locusts generally required warmer weather, the area where they hatched was exposed to maximum sunlight.
"It was a wind-sheltered area that was relatively bare country and lighter in soil type which is probably why they've hatched in this area," Mr Ryan said.
"Temperature-wise these hatchings are early which means the hatching period could be extended on the property.
"During the next week we'll get a fairly good idea of how much of the property is affected."
The RLPB has also received a report of hatchings on a property near Gilgandra.
Mr Ryan said they were expecting peak locust activity in the north-west of the board in coming weeks and significant hatchings in the south could take slightly longer.
All land-holders in areas where locusts were seen in autumn are urged to monitor their properties for hatchings.
The Australian Plague Locust Commission (APLC) has warned hatchings and band formation are expected to be heaviest in the north-west slopes and plains, central west slopes and plains and central tablelands.
Less intense hatchings are also expected in parts of the Riverina, southwest slopes and plains, northern tablelands and upper western districts.
9:1 The fifth
angel sounded, and I saw a star from the sky which had fallen to the
earth. The key to the pit of the abyss was given to him.
9:13 The sixth
angel sounded. I heard a voice from the horns of the golden altar
which is before God,
... by Dee Finney. WWI 40 million - WWII 88 million - Rev 9:16 - WWIII - 200 million.
I am not a preacher, nor a theologian. I am a seer, a visionary. ...
DAUGHTERS OF ZION
19 - War of Armegeddon