Coronavirus spike and locusts breeding: help Christians in Pakistan and East Africa survive the ordeal

20 March 2020

“There is no helping hand for us except God,” Pakistani Christian farmer Tagji Haloo told Barnabas. Her family of nine are eating just one simple meal a day.

“The unexpected plague of swarms ate up our whole crops and vegetables and left us helpless and depressed with no sources of daily food for our families,” Tagji explained with unspoken grief. “We already got a loan for food needs to be fulfilled, but it is not enough or sustainable solution for us instead it increased our depression and pressure.”


Ideal locust breeding conditions – and now a terrible spike in coronavirus infections – have seriously heightened the emergency in south-west Pakistan. The plague of locusts devastated winter crops just as they were about to be harvested in badly affected Sindh province, at the beginning of the year. At least 30,000 acres of crops were ravaged.

Now coronavirus infection is surging in Pakistan, with 454 recorded cases and three deaths. Cases are rocketing in poor rural Sindh province where travellers are returning from coronavirus-stricken Iran.

“Extremely alarming” locust swarm surge in Africa

Our contacts tell us new swarms are swelling quickly in East Africa. The locust swarms are moving faster and further in dry weather conditions, particularly in Kenya and Uganda. The eggs were laid in damp conditions over recent weeks, and concerns are growing that there will be a massive locust population surge.

Fast breeding swarms of desert locusts are surging in south-west Pakistan

April and May are expected to bring severe food shortages.

The ravenous swarms are infesting swathes of East Africa with devastating impact on countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia and South Sudan. The UN has warned of a coming food crisis. The infestation is the worst for decades in Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti, where Christians are already marginalised and persecuted.

Africa is urged “to prepare for the worst”, as 712 coronavirus cases are reported. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned Africa must “wake up” to the coronavirus pandemic and “prepare for the worst” in the coming weeks.

Locusts breeding at a staggering rate in Africa and Asia

The plague of locusts is breeding at a staggering rate in East Africa and South Asia. Crops and livelihoods have been devastated. Many thousands of already marginalised and persecuted Christians are among those facing famine after vast swarms of locusts caused catastrophic loss to crops.

Trying desperately to defend her crops as locusts descend in East Africa [image credit: ©FAO/Sven Torfinn]

Please help save thousands of Christians left hungry and overwhelmed by the locust plague and defenceless against the spectre of spreading coronavirus infection. Many of them face daily discrimination or persecution.

£8 ($10; €9)* could provide 15kg of wheat in Ethiopia
£15 ($19; €17)* could provide 30kg of rice in Pakistan
30 ($40; €34)* could provide 100kg of maize in Kenya