Ugandan officials say locusts have entered the country from Kenya, confirming fears expressed by UN officials that the swarms destroying crops in East Africa would continue to spread.
The insects were spotted in the eastern Amudat district bordering Kenya on Sunday, according to reports quoting the State Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Moses Kizige.
Desert locust swarms have already destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of farmland in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.
Swarms have also been reported in Eritrea, Djibouti, Oman and Yemen, according to officials from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The Uganda-based news website PML Daily reported that the locusts were spotted approaching the Uganda-Kenya border earlier on Sunday.
The agriculture ministry announced last week that the government was stocking pesticides to fight a locust invasion and would seek help from the Desert Locust Control Organisation for Eastern Africa, the PML Daily said.
The desert locust outbreak is the worst Kenya has experienced in 70 years. Even before the locust invasion, about 11 million people in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya were experiencing food insecurity, and the swarms will worsen the situation, the FAO said.
United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres on Saturday appealed for “speedy and generous” financial assistance to control the locust outbreak.
Mr Guterres, who was in Addis Ababa to attend the African Union summit, cited global warming as a cause of the problem and called for developed countries to support African nations affected by the locust swarms.
“There is a link between climate change and the unprecedented locust crisis plaguing Ethiopia and East Africa,” he said. “Warmer seas mean more cyclones generating the perfect breeding ground for locusts. Today the swarms are as big as major cities and it is getting worse by the day.”
The FAO said last week it had mobilised $15.4 million of the $76m requested to assist Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti. It said more funding would be needed if the outbreak spread to other countries, particularly South Sudan and Uganda.