Mastercard Foundation Joins Forces with the UN’s FAO to Tackle Desert Locust Infestation

Desert Locust response to mitigate impact in the Greater Horn of Africa

April 16, 2020 – Mastercard Foundation will contribute USD $10 million under a new partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to enable the expansion of operations to control the severe Desert Locust infestation in the Greater Horn of Africa.

The prevailing Desert Locust crisis is among the worst experienced with hundreds of thousands of hectares of cropland and pasture already damaged. The infestation poses significant risks to  the agricultural sector in the affected countries, including the economic livelihoods of smallholder farmers and nomadic pastoralists.

The partnership will invest in three key areas over a 12-month period:

  1. Early detection of locust swarms to enable timely decision-making processes for ground and aerial control operations.
  2. Comprehensive ground and aerial spraying operations.
  3. Conducting an impact assessment and promoting environment, health, and safety measures for the safe use of pesticides.

The partnership will focus on implementing these interventions over 50,000 hectares of land across six   affected countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Eritrea, and Djibouti.

“It’s clear that the Desert Locust infestation poses an unprecedented threat to the affected communities, and particularly to the economic livelihoods of smallholder farmers,” said Reeta Roy, Mastercard Foundation President and CEO. “Agriculture is at the heart of Africa’s economic transformation and the majority of young people depend on it for their livelihoods. We need to ensure that we safeguard its potential as a pathway to prosperity and growth for the millions of young people living on the continent.”

Over the last decade, Mastercard Foundation has invested more than $1billion in agriculture-related programs in Africa. Agriculture remains a key sector of focus under the Foundation’s newly launched Young Africa Works strategy. Young Africa Works, developed in consultation with young people, policymakers, educators, and entrepreneurs, will extend dignified work to 30 million young people in Africa, 70 percent of whom will be young women, over the next 10 years.

FAO is closely coordinating with the governments of the affected countries. Each country is leading their response, typically through their Ministry of Agriculture, which guarantees the sustainability of the investments.

FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, welcomed Mastercard Foundation’s commitment to this crisis. “I thank Mastercard Foundation for its generous contribution as the Desert Locust threatens to provoke a humanitarian emergency,” Qu said.  “It is crucial that we act hand in hand, scale up efforts to contain the locusts and protect the livelihoods of millions of farmers and their families.”

 About the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is the oldest permanent specialized agency of the United Nations, which partners with governments to raise agricultural productivity, enhance the resilience of rural populations, foster vibrant food systems and rural economies and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality, nutritious food to lead active, healthy lives. With over 194 member states, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide.

For more information about FAO, please visit http://www.fao.org. Follow: @FAO on Twitter, @UNFAO on Facebook and @FAO on Instagram.

About Mastercard Foundation

Mastercard Foundation seeks a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper. Through its Young Africa Works strategy and Canadian EleV program, the Foundation works with partners to ensure that millions of young people, especially young women, access quality education, financial services, and dignified work. Mastercard Foundation was established in 2006 through the generosity of Mastercard when it became a public company. The Foundation is independent with its own Board of Directors and CEO.

For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit http://www.localhost:10018/. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at @MastercardFdn.

Media Contacts


 Josephine Mckenna, Media Relations (Rome)

FAO Media Relations Office


Helen White, Lead, Eastern and Southern Africa Program Communications

  • hwhite@mastercardfdn.org
  • +27 76 166 5372

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