The coronavirus pandemic is hampering the fight against locusts in East Africa as the delivery of pesticides and equipment is delayed, heightening the threat to food security at the worst time.
The pandemic that shocked the world — with cases topping 325,000 and deaths nearing 14,500 — has hit the aviation industry hard as governments close borders in a bid to reduce the risk of contagion. Kenya suspended international flights after announcing another eight Covid-19 infections, bringing the country’s total to 15 on Sunday.
New swarms of locusts are forming in the region with Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia facing the biggest risk, according to science journal Nature. Swarms also threaten Yemen, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Now, a combination of trade and production shocks resulting from the coronavirus outbreak, as well as the economic and medical challenges of trying to combat the pandemic itself, will likely compound these problems.
But, even if East African nations are successful in curtailing the spread of the virus, which has increased at an exponential rate in Europe and the U.S., the systemic importance of China to the region’s bilateral trade, and a slump in Chinese demand introducing a terms-of-trade hit to African exporters means further economic difficulties lie ahead.
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