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BRIEF October 1, 2020

FAQs - Uganda Emergency Desert Locust Response Project

1. How are locusts affecting Uganda?

Locust infestations have been sighted in 24 districts in the regions of Karamoja, Teso, Acholi, Lango and Busigu. The locust invasion could coincide with the regeneration of rangelands and the start of the planting activities, which will likely affect the main staple crop production. This will have devasting consequences for food access and availability, especially if control measures are not fully effective. A joint assessment carried out by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 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 control measures are lacking or ineffective. An estimate 291,000 people are already considered severely food insecure in the two regions, and another 1.32 million people could be at risk.

The situation is complicated by the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) Crisis, which has also affected the agriculture sector. The disruption in supply chains for inputs and services will increase food insecurity, while the loss of livelihood income will have a significant impact on human capital as people forego investments in adequate food, nutrition, and education. If the locusts are not contained, it could push affected households to eat next season's seed and sell off productive assets, as well as cause an increased risk of domestic violence and the withdrawal of children from school, among other negative coping consequences.

2. What interventions are financed by the project?

The government has accessed $48 million from the World Bank’s International Development Association to prevent and respond to the threat posed to livelihoods by the desert locust outbreak and to strengthen Uganda’s national systems for preparedness.

Project interventions will focus on the following:  

  • Monitoring and controlling swarms to limit the growth of existing and new desert locust populations and curb their spread
  • Livelihood protection and restoration to protect lives and human capital and to restore livelihoods of affected households, communities and vulnerable groups
  • Coordination and early warning preparedness at the regional and national levels to strengthen national capacities for surveillance, response and preparedness to prevent future infestations
  • Project management to guide and coordinate the National Desert Locust Management strategy and to enhance communications about the desert locust to promote recovery and resilience

3. Who are the beneficiaries of the project?

The project is expected to benefit a total of 950,000 direct beneficiaries and about 1,200,000 indirect beneficiaries in the locust-affected district. Priority will be given to women and youth, with at least 50% of household representatives expected to be women. This will be achieved through Livelihoods Restoration Support (LRS), which involves strengthening existing savings and investment groups at village level by provision of grants to boost their capital base through a Village Revolving Fund (VRF) and Labor-Intensive Public Works (LIPW), which provides seasonal income transfers to poor and vulnerable households in return for their participation in labor-based work. Refugees in the affected areas are being supported through a separate World Bank-financed operation, the Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP) which provides livelihood support to refugee hosting districts.

4. What measures are in place to ensure safe use of pesticides?

The FAO is providing technical support to the government through the Multi-Institutional Technical Team on the pesticide selection, applications and management. The Ministry has adopted FAO’s Desert Locust Guidelines to mitigate the environment, health and safety risks for  pesticide spraying. The district local governments will also be involved in the operations and will have key participation of their technical officers, including District Environment Officers and District Community Development Officers.

5. How can local communities get engaged in locust control activities?

To improve surveillance of locusts and other pests, Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, together with the district local governments, will mobilize communities and establish a locust surveillance system based at the community, district and national levels to undertake continuous surveillance, mapping monitoring and reporting on  locust spread in invaded and locust prone districts.

6. How does the project address the regional scope of the problem?

Uganda’s food security will continue to be threatened, especially for the severely food insecure, if the locust swarms continue to enter from Kenya and if breeding and hatching continue at alarming levels in all three of Uganda’s neighboring countries, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. The project is part of a regional multi-program approach that is supporting locust response and building resilience within the horn of Africa.

7. How will vulnerable households be identified for the cash transfers, and how much will they get?

Cash transfers are part of the project’s livelihoods protection and restoration activities. These activities will be implemented in a two-phased process, beginning with geographical targeting to identify and demarcate areas that are in critical need of support. This will be assessed through a variety of factors including the severity of the impact of locusts, environmental degradation, population, and whether regeneration and improved agricultural production is feasible. The second phase will involve community mobilization and sensitization to identify those who are most in need of support for both Livelihood Restoration Support (LRS) and Labor-Intensive Public Works (LIPW) sub-components. The Village Revolving Fund (VRF), on the other hand, will target existing savings and investment groups in which 90% of households are poor. This process will be facilitated by the District Implementation Support Team (DIST), Sub-County Implementation Support Teams (SIST) parish chiefs and community facilitators with the participation of the beneficiary community.

8. What are channels for reporting complaints for aggrieved beneficiaries?

A Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) is being tailored to respond to the needs of the project. The GRM will be designed to address concerns and complaints promptly and transparently with no cost or discrimination towards project affected communities. A grievance redress committee will be put in place starting from the community level including a clear tier for escalation of cases to the national level.

9. What is the complementarity of this response to other World Bank programs in Uganda?

The government has implemented several initiatives in the affected area, whose interventions can be leveraged and scaled up. For example, operations such as the Third Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF 3) and DRDIP have provided effective livelihood support interventions in Northern Uganda, and in districts hosting refugees, respectively. The Regional Pastoral Livelihoods Resilience Project (RPLRP) and Agriculture Cluster Development Project (ACDP) which are also being implemented in the affected districts all have important lessons to contribute in terms of enhancing early warning systems, rangeland management and targeted access to agro-inputs among others.