The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The Sahel devastated by locusts

Aug 30, 2004

In the United States, we know about the swarms of 17-year locusts that arrived this year. They may be a big inconvenience here, but for the people living in the poorest countries of Africa, these locusts spell a disaster. In the U.S., there are technological means to limit the destruction, but in Mauritania, for example, there is only enough insecticide to cover 13% of the fields. There is only one airplane available to spread insecticide, and this plane is grounded due to lack of fuel. So, of course, the locusts are destroying the crops. The inevitable result will be famine.

The population in these poor countries resort to whatever means they think can work: setting fires and digging trenches, for example, in hopes of capturing the locusts before they are old enough to fly – but with little success.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, some 100 million dollars is needed immediately to stop the spreading disaster of the crickets. This amount is less than what was spent on the Olympic Games spectacle in Athens. If the money isn't spent now, the need will only increase, as it did some 15 years ago, when it took five years to control the damage and 600 million dollars.

It is relatively easy to control this catastrophe, and the money required is relatively modest as well. If nothing is done, it's because the governments in the wealthy countries choose to do nothing – after having impoverished the Sahel and other regions of Africa for centuries.