Corona virus and locust invasion in Ethiopia – situation of our projects in May 2020
(Please find illustrative pictures in the attached document below)
Since a few weeks, our partners in Ethiopia inform us that covid-19 has now arrived in Ethiopia. With 123 confirmed cases and 3 death casualties (as of April 27, 2020, by APO group), the numbers are still moderate.
Despite, the central government has decided on a 5-month lockdown, allowing the government to decide and issue special measures. Besides appeals for staying at home and washing hands, one drastic measure taken is stopping most public transportation. However, how washing hands will be implemented in a country with constant water shortages, now being in the dry season with lowest water levels, remains a challenge. Also staying at home when most people depend on buying food on markets, even in bigger cities, must be worked out. We still hope that the country stays largely untroubled from covid-19.
And what does the lockdown mean for our projects? First of all, it is important to know that the production of the 10 million tree seedlings, which we plan to plant out in July and August this year, has started several months ago. And by now most seedlings have reached around 60% of their growth, so they are quite strong already. Our project representatives report that the work at the tree nurseries, so watering and caring the tree seedlings, continues under respecting social distancing and washing hands (see pictures below). Also the preparation work on hills and mountain sites is largely finished, and continues where necessary. All in all we see the conditions for planting at the beginning of the rain season as positive. However, it is still unclear what the situation will be in 3 months when the seedlings have to be transported to the hills and mountains, and when the plantation shall take place. There is currently some uncertainty what the situation will be and what measures will be required (if any) for successful transportation and plantation.
Locusts are invading some parts of East Africa since a few months. North Kenya, Somalia and South Ethiopia are most affected. Enormous swarms of locust attack Sorghum, Maize, Wheat and destroy multiple square kilometers of fields within hours. Up to now, 200'000 hectares of cultivated land have been destroyed in Ethiopia (according to Al Jazeera, April 26, 2020) leaving half a million people depending on food aid.
Our project areas are located north of the main invasion areas and are currently not directly affected and attacked. Some project areas report that locusts have been seen, but in smaller numbers which allow defeating with traditional measures such a noise, preventing major damages up to now.
Thank you for your interest about the current developments in our project areas. We will further inform you if the situation shall change.