Situation Report
Desert locust situation map - FAO
Desert locust situation map - FAO

Desert locust risk persists in Sudan

When | September 2020

What | The risk of desert locust persists in Sudan. The situation is developing rapidly in winter and summer breeding areas, particularly at the summer breeding belts, according to the latest update from Sudan’s Plant Protection Directorate (PPD) and the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Where | Ongoing surveys have spotted bands of desert locust  - solitary hopper infestations - in North Goz Ragab, and other locations in Kassala. In Red Sea State, breeding groups were found in Hayab near Haiya, while maturing and mature gregarious groups were found in two locations southwest of Ashat and in Kilo 48. Small groups of mature and immature desert locusts were reported in a location near Toker, and in El Fasher in North Darfur.

On 20 September, a few small swarms from Eritrea invaded an area near Sinkat in eastern Sudan and were immediately controlled by aerial spraying. In addition, desert locust swarms are also reported by trained community scouts in southern coastal areas of Red Sea State. Although the flooding of Khor Baraka initially hampered the work of ground survey teams last week, they managed to reach the area on 23 September.

Response | Three aircraft are currently aerial spraying in Kassala and Red Sea states, mainly against five breeding swarms in Aydnon, Abu Takar, Khor Bayab, Kas and Khor Arab around Haiya town, other three mature and maturing swarms at Hamish Korib1, Hamish Korib2 and Oudi in the northeast of Kassala State. As of 22 September, the total area treated is around 5,600 hectares.

Forecast | The latest update from PPD forecasts that up to mid-October the habitat will be suitable for scattered locusts to increase and small-scale breeding might occur given prevailing areas of green vegetation and soil being wet in most of the surveyed areas. Also, in early October, the hatching of first-generation locusts is expected to commence in Red Sea and Kassala states. The potential risk of more invading swarms from the neighbouring countries through the Red Sea coast and their migration toward the Nile Valley will increase during the first half of October. Therefore, vigilance and monitoring in all summer breeding zones is necessary.

There is concern that the situation could deteriorate along both sides of the Red Sea. In East Africa, aerial control operations continue against low numbers of milling immature swarms that persist in northwest Kenya and northeast Somalia. Breeding is underway in north and northeast Ethiopia where control teams are treating numerous hopper bands and adult groups that continue to form. This situation is expected to continue up to the end of September. In Eritrea, control operations are in progress against mature swarms on the Red Sea coast where swarm movements continue to be reported. Widespread and potentially heavy breeding is expected in coastal areas of Eritrea where unusually good rains fell last month, including Sudan.

As the desert locust infestations persist in the Horn of Africa, groups and swarms are expected to invade the interior summer breeding areas, particularly in Red Sea and Kassala states. The PPD, with FAO support, is applying a preventive strategy to control desert locust invasions. Intensive surveys and close monitoring of the summer breeding areas is continuing. Control teams are stationed at hotspots where swarms are expected to cross the borders. Moreover, logistics, materials, aircraft are on stand-by for any aerial control operations if required.

A desert locust adult can consume roughly its own weight in fresh food per day, that is about two grams every day. A very small part of an average swarm (or about one tonne of locusts) eats the same amount of food in one day as about 10 elephants or 25 camels or 2,500 people, according to FAO.