Coronavirus complicates Ethiopia’s locust recovery efforts

By April 1, 2020
Flickr_locust swarm

Ethiopia (MNN) — First, locusts; now, disease. Problems of biblical proportions are plaguing East Africa.

The worst desert locust infestation in decades began spreading throughout the Horn of Africa last fall, affecting eight countries. Today, new swarms are starting to form in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, raising the crisis level even higher.  The coronavirus adds another monumental challenge.

Compassion International is doing all it can to help affected families in Ethiopia, but only the Lord can remove some obstacles. “All of us cannot [stop] the spread of the (coronavirus) disease,” Compassion’s Tewodros Meskel observes.

“So, I would like all Christians to pray for Ethiopia so that God may intervene in the situation.”

Plague one: locusts

Meskel says farmers lost most of their crops to locusts in weeks past. Today, the threat posed by new hatchlings has everyone on edge.

“The local people were trying to prevent the locusts using traditional [methods] like smoking and using different kinds of noise to prevent them from landing on their area. But, the locusts [destroyed] the crops of the farmers in the rural area,” Meskel says.

desert locust

Desert locusts usually fly with the wind and can travel more than 150 km in a day.
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Compassion provided immediate help in Jesus’ name. More about that here.  Ruin wrought by the locusts left families “for the coming six months without food support, but Compassion, [thanks] to its sponsors, we have made an intervention that will sustain them for three months,” public relations specialist Girum Getachew explains.

Through its Disaster Relief Fund, Compassion staff identified families in greatest need and supplied them with essentials like rice, cooking oil, and pasta.  By partnering with more than 500 churches in Ethiopia, Compassion helps over 120,000 vulnerable children in Jesus’ name. More about Compassion’s work in Ethiopia here.

Now, COVID-19 presents a new challenge for believers to overcome. See our global coronavirus coverage here.

Plague two: disease

Global coronavirus cases now exceed 750,000 according to the World Health Organization, with most cases occurring in the United States. Infection rates are comparatively low so far in Ethiopia, and officials want to keep it that way. But prevention comes at a cost.

(Image courtesy of

“Many economic activities are on hold; many people are ordered to stay at home. So, this will directly impact delivery [of aid supplies to church partners and needy families], even collecting the support,” Getachew says.

“People are panicking; people who [earn a daily wage] are going to be affected because the economic activities are going to be halted.”

Pray for Compassion’s staff and church partners as they seek new ways to communicate and coordinate response efforts in this troublesome time. Ask the Lord to help them overcome obstacles so they can minister in His name to people who desperately need His hope. Find more prayer needs here.



Header image depicts a swarm of locusts. Photo credit: Wild Center via Flickr.

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