Rep. Smith introduces House resolution to help African nations facing mass starvation
As the U.S. and all nations aggressively combat the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of African countries also face a very serious threat of starvation caused by a devasting locust plague, leading Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)—the former chairman and current ranking Republican of the congressional panel that oversees U.S. policy on Africa and all global health issues—to author bipartisan legislation to help mitigate the crisis and protect critical food supplies in the region. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), the current chair of the subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations is the lead co-sponsor of the resolution.
“Numerous government and news reports document a plague of locusts threatening mass starvation, especially impacting East Africa,” said Smith who has led several human rights and humanitarian aid trips to the region. “A measured intervention by the United States now can make an enormous life-saving impact. More than 25 million are already facing severe food insecurity.
The resolution, H.Res. 962, urges the President to allocate air assets to support locust eradication and to direct the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development to immediately mobilize personnel from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance to determine further types of assistance the United States could provide in East Africa.
H.Res. 962 supports the coordination efforts of United States Ambassador to the United Nations food agencies in Rome Kip Tom with the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization but seeks to have locust eradication efforts elevated among other U.S. agencies to “enhance the emerging food security crisis in East Africa.”
The locust plague threatens millions of people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Sudan, and other countries. Experts believe the locusts, currently in their most vulnerable state, can be controlled using airborne pesticides before they mature into full grown locusts.
Smith also sent a letter to the Administration about the crisis in March. Click here to read the letter.
In the letter, Smith noted that, “our small investment in resources immediately will hopefully alleviate the need to invest much more later for emergency food relief in the stricken areas.” To date, USAID has contributed nearly $20 million in disaster assistance to combat the locusts.