Swarms of locusts that are sweeping across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia could grow 500 times bigger by June and invade Uganda and South Sudan unless they are immediately brought under control, says Oxfam.
Locusts have hit the region at a time when it is already facing very high levels of food insecurity after countries there had been hit by huge droughts and in some areas flash floods.
"Currently, millions of people in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda are already suffering from hunger and severe malnutrition. These infestations of hundreds of millions of locusts need to be quickly contained before the next main cropping season of March to July," said Lydia Zigomo, the Regional Director of Oxfam in Horn, East and Central Africa (HECA).
Oxfam is part of a network of local partner organisations that is monitoring how much further damage the locusts will cause to local food crops. "We are making plans that include providing cash assistance to people most-in-need, particularly small-holder farmers and pastoralists, so they are able to buy food and fodder for their livestock," said Zigomo.