By Frank Kamuntu
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a financing of $48 million from the International Development Association (IDA) to help Uganda prevent and respond to the threat to livelihoods posed by the desert locusts outbreak, and to strengthen its national and regional systems for disaster preparedness.
Locusts have so far infested 24 districts in 6 sub-regions of Uganda, including Acholi, Karamoja, Lango, Sebei, Teso and Bugisu, since arriving from western Kenya on February 9.
An assessment carried out by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FSO) and the World Food Program in Karamoja and Teso shows it would cost between $12 million and $42 million to safeguard and restore livelihoods if surveillance and locust management measures are lacking or ineffective.
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.
World Bank says the Emergency Locust Response Program will help Uganda:
a) Monitor and manage locust swarms to limit the growth of existing and new desert locust populations;
b) Provide livelihood protection and restoration to affected households, communities and vulnerable groups;
c) Improve coordination and early warning preparedness at the regional and national levels to strengthen national capacities for surveillance, response and preparedness to prevent future infestations.
The project is expected to support 950,000 direct beneficiaries and about 1,200,000 indirect beneficiaries in the locust-affected districts giving priority to women and youth, with at least 50 percent of household representatives expected to be women.
“The locust invasion could coincide with the start of the planting season, which will likely affect the main staple crop production and the regeneration of grasslands for livestock feeds. These resources are timely to support affected households cope, and to strengthen Government’s response efforts,” said Tony Thompson, Country Manager, World Bank.
The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives.
IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.6 billion people who live in IDA countries.
Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $21 billion over the last three years, with about 61 percent going to Africa countries.