Inside Story

What caused desert locust outbreak in East Africa, South Asia?

The infestation is the worst in a quarter of a century and threatens the food supplies of millions of people.

The insects are the world’s most dangerous migratory pests.

Locusts can swarm in billions and in January, they did so, densely enough to force an Ethiopian Airlines plane off course.

Now, they are invading Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda and Pakistan.

It is the worst outbreak in decades.

The insects can spread fast, and other countries are now at risk. The swarms have already destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of crops.

Millions of people already short of food could face famine. Somalia and Pakistan have declared a state of emergency. 

The United Nations says if action is not  taken fast enough, Somalia‘s infestation could become “the most devastating plague in living memory”. It has also asked for $76m in aid to help control the outbreak.

So can it be contained, or could it get worse?

Presenter: Adrian Finighan


Stephen Njoka – Director of the Desert Locust Control Organisation for Eastern Africa

Cyril Ferrand – Emergency and resilience programme officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Crystal Wells – Spokeswoman at the International Committee of the Red Cross, Africa