Gro’s Locust Impact Tool Kit models the impact of the locust infestation in East Africa and potentially the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. It is intended to focus locust containment efforts and align disaster response. These models are free for anyone to access.
Given the limited pest control resources available, these tools will enable NGOs, governments, and companies to have an up-to-date understanding of where locust swarms are, and where they are having the most impact. This information will be vital in directing containment efforts. Containment is key to avoiding widespread food shortages in East Africa.
The Tool Kit consists of:
How to Read the Locust Impact Model
The maps below show where NDVI, an index based on satellite data that provides a measure of plant greenness and vegetation health, is lower than it should be this time of year. The darker the area, the lower NDVI is than expected. Lower-than-expected NDVI indicates that locusts have impacted vegetation in that area. Both the total area impacted and severity of the impact increased dramatically between February 1 and March 28.
To contain the locust impact and spread, it’s particularly important to pay attention to areas that have recently transitioned from desert to vegetation. In other words, pesticide application should be focused on areas where planting is about to begin as locusts would be attracted to crop seedlings. Pesticides should be spread for crops that are entering or in their planting period to minimize locust impact.
As seen in the crop calendars below, the main planting season in Kenya has started for barley, corn, millet, and sorghum. Wheat planting will begin in May. In Ethiopia, corn and sorghum have started to be planted. Soon, barley, millet, and wheat will also be put into the ground.
If efforts to contain and combat locusts are successful and no major weather anomalies occur, we should see vegetation health, as indicated by NDVI, return to normal, meaning that the dark areas in the maps above will become lighter. Proactive application of pesticides—i.e., spraying areas that are threatened by locusts before the locusts actually arrive—especially over the next 4-6 weeks, is the most effective step we can take to combat this problem.