With all the news out there on the Coronavirus spread, and Democrat candidates for president imploding, one of the more interesting natural disasters out there is getting lost in the shuffle.
There’s a locust swarm in Africa, and it’s taking over the Congo.
The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization says a small group of desert locusts has entered Congo, marking the first time the voracious insects have been seen in the Central African country since 1944.
The agency says the mature locusts, carried in part by the wind, arrived on the western shore of Lake Albert on Friday near the town of Bunia.
The worst locust outbreak that parts of East Africa have seen in 70 years also recently reached South Sudan, a country where roughly half the population already faces hunger after years of civil war.
Kenya, Somalia and Uganda also have been battling the locust swarms, which can reach the size of major cities.
It looks like God is not out of locusts after all.
The insects, however, so far are confined to the single continent. That does not mean that they are not amazingly destructive.
The insects can destroy crops and devastate pasture for animals, and experts have warned that the outbreak is affecting millions of already vulnerable people across the region.
Naturally, to help the people of various African nations deal with this disaster – and it is a disaster – the United Nations and various other entities are requesting cash from the rest of the world. Not actual help, they want cold hard cash.
The U.N. recently raised its aid appeal from $76 million to $138 million, saying the need for more help is urgent. Experts have warned that the number of locusts if unchecked could grow 500 times by June, when drier weather is expected in the region.
And, of course, we can’t get through a mess like this without bringing climate change into the equation even if this is history repeating itself.
A changing climate has contributed to this outbreak as a warming Indian Ocean means more powerful tropical cyclones hitting the region. A cyclone late last year in Somalia brought heavy rains that fed fresh vegetation to fuel the locusts that were carried in by the wind from the Arabian Peninsula.
As bad as the locust situation is, perhaps the better option is to help the various nations with keeping the locust food supply under control.