The World Bank has approved a $48 million (Shs180 billion) loan from the International Development Association (IDA) to help Uganda respond to the threat to livelihoods posed by the desert locusts.
In February, swarms of desert locusts from neighbouring Kenya entered Uganda through Amudat district in Karamoja region.
The locusts have since spread to 24 districts in six sub-regions including Acholi, Karamoja, Lango, Sebei, Teso and Bugisu and they have threatened food security in those areas.
On Thursday, World Bank announced that its Board of Executive Directors had approved the loan to Uganda to help fight the locusts.
“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, the Country Manager, World Bank.
An assessment carried out by Food and Agriculture Organisation 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
According to a statement by the World Bank, the Emergency Locust Response Program will help Uganda monitor and manage locust swarms to limit the growth of existing and new desert locust populations.
“The program will also provide livelihood protection and restoration to affected households, communities and vulnerable groups but also 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 but priority will be given to women and youth, with at least 50 percent of household representatives expected to be women.