Armyworm hits northern Cameroon, worsening food crisis

The armyworm attack endangers Cameroon’s entire maize sector because maize is the most commonly grown cereal in the country. (Reuters)
Updated 06 September 2017
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Armyworm hits northern Cameroon, worsening food crisis

YAOUNDE: Crop-eating fall armyworms have attacked nearly 37,000 hectares of maize in northern Cameroon, officials said on Wednesday, accentuating an already dire humanitarian crisis provoked by the militant group Boko Haram’s cross-border insurgency.
More than two dozen African nations have reported outbreaks of the invasive Central American variety of the pest, which is harder to detect and eradicate than its African counterpart.
They have now spread to all of Cameroon’s 10 administrative regions, though maize crops in the Extreme North region have only been heavily affected since July, Deputy Agriculture Minister Clementine Ananga Messina told Reuters.
“The armyworm attack endangers the entire maize sector and is creating serious risks of food insecurity, because it’s the most commonly grown cereal in Cameroon,” she said.
The Extreme North region bordering Chad and Nigeria has been hit hard by Boko Haram, whose campaign of violence and cross-border attacks has sent more than 93,000 Nigerians fleeing into Cameroon where some 235,000 people have also been displaced.
Across the Lake Chad region around 1.5 million people are confronting a food crisis, according to the United Nations.
Cameroonian authorities have launched an action plan to fight against the infestation, but so far pesticides have failed to contain it.
“There are no effective means to fight armyworm currently existing in Cameroon,” said Agriculture Ministry expert Andre Marie Elombat Assoua. “The chemical products now being used by farmers are ineffective and too expensive.”
Around 12 million Cameroonians, more than half of the national population, regularly consume maize. It is also an important ingredient for the central African nation’s breweries and in the production of feed for livestock.
Though the fall armyworm prefers maize, it also attacked sorghum and millet, two of Cameroon’s other staple crops, earlier this year.


Fire sweeps through Bangladesh slum, nine dead

Updated 17 February 2019
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Fire sweeps through Bangladesh slum, nine dead

  • Fires regularly break out in Bangladesh’s slums, where millions live in squalid living conditions

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh: A fire tore through a slum in southern Bangladesh on Sunday killing at least 9 people and destroying hundreds of shanty homes, police said.
The blaze broke out in the port city of Chittagong at about 3.30 A.M. and raced through the district of bamboo, tin and tarpaulin homes, said local police chief Pranab Chowdhury.
“At least 470 shanties were destroyed by the fire. So far 9 people have died. They included four members of a family,” fire brigade official Hefazatul Islam said.
Fires regularly break out in Bangladesh’s slums, where millions live in squalid living conditions.
Rights groups have in the past alleged some shanty town blazes were deliberate acts of sabotage by developers seeking to free up property to construct multi-story buildings.
“We have seen fires are used as a weapon to evict poor slum dwellers and squatters from government or private property,” rights activist Nur Khan Liton said.