Technology takes the lead as locusts threaten livelihoods.

Locusts are wreaking havoc in East Africa, destroying crops, pastures and livelihoods and threatening the food security of millions in a part of the world that already grapples with elevated levels of hunger and malnutrition.

Considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world, locusts can gather in numbers of up to 80 million in a single, vast swarm, covering an area of one square kilometre and consuming the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people.

Somalia, South Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda, and Ethiopia are all affected, paving the way for potentially critical food shortages. Forming swarms have also been reported within Iran, Yemen, and Pakistan.

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Kenya, which earlier in 2020 experienced its worst locust infestation in 70 years, is battling back with technology. Scientists in the country have deployed a supercomputer to forecast locust movements and help predict where eggs may have been laid.

This information will help to guide governments on where to spray pesticides to break the cycle of infestation, hopefully enabling the country, and its neighbours, to stop the swarm before it starts. — PA