BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — The European Commission has pledged an additional €10 million ($11.1 million) to help combat an infestation of Desert Locusts in East Africa.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently called the infestation “the worst outbreak of Desert Locusts seen in the region for decades.” The infestation began in December 2019 and has damaged hundreds of thousands of acres of crops.

“This crisis shows, once again, how fragile food systems can be when facing threats,” said Jutta Urpilainen, commissioner for international partnerships at the EC. “The EU’s approach, in line with the Green Deal, puts sustainability at its heart. We must enhance the capacity to collectively respond to these threats and we also have a responsibility to step in now with resolve to avoid a major crisis, tackle the root causes of this natural disaster, and protect livelihoods and food production.”

The FAO has formulated a response plan, but the speed at which the infestation has spread has heightened the importance of quickly implementing that plan. The FAO’s response plan has estimated that around €70.3 million be required for the most urgent activities for both Desert Locust control and agricultural livelihood protection and recovery. With the EC’s donation of €10 million, a total of €29.4 million has been committed to the plan to date by the EU and international partners, the EC said.

The EC noted that a “new wave of breeding and further spreading in the region” is likely as the region’s long rainy season gets underway in March. The three most affected countries have been Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, but the EC said damages may quickly spread to other neighboring countries, including Djibouti, Eritrea, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Yemen, Sudan, Iran, India and Pakistan also are at risk, the EC said.