KAMPALA — The World Bank Group on Thursday announced that it has approved financing of $48m (Sh181 billion) to help Uganda fight an ongoing invasion of desert locusts and to strengthen its national and regional systems for preparedness.
Since arriving from western Kenya on February 9, the locusts have infested 24 districts in 6 sub-regions of Uganda, including Acholi, Bugisu, Karamoja, Lango, Sebei and Teso. This could undermine development gains and threaten food security and livelihoods of millions of Ugandans.
From an assessment carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and the World Food Program (WFP) in Karamoja and Teso regions, the World Bank estimates that between $12 million and $42 million will be required to safeguard and restore livelihoods if surveillance and locust management measures are lacking or ineffective.
Africa Tembelea understands that an estimated 291,000 people are already considered severely food insecure in the two regions, and another 1.32 million people could be at risk.
With government revenues at their lowest at the moment yet facing more demand for resources to deal with unbudgeted for occurrences like the coronavirus pandemic, desert locusts and natural calamities like flash floods, government is on a borrowing spree.
According to Tony Thompson, World Bank Uganda Country Manager, these resources come at the right time as they will help support affected households cope, and to strengthen Government’s response efforts.
He revealed that the locust crisis response support was availed through an allocation of $1 million from the Agriculture Cluster Development Project, also financed by the World Bank to address gaps in locust management measures undertaken by the Government.
With priority given to women and youth, the project is expected to support 950,000 direct beneficiaries and about 1,200,000 indirect beneficiaries in the locust-affected districts.