In what is being called the worst caterpillar plague in 30 years, West African Liberia is facing a national crisis according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The caterpillars, mostly likely a species known colloquially as African armyworms, devastate crops throughout the country and contaminate local water supplies with their feces.
According to the FAO, the infestation could spread over borders into neighboring Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. Further complicating the situation, FAO scientists warn against large-scale aerial spraying, cautioning that the pesticides easily contaminate the already fragile water supply.
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Circle of Blue’s east coast correspondent based in New York. He specializes on water conflict and the water-food-energy nexus. He previously worked as a political risk analyst covering equatorial Africa’s energy sector, and sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa. Contact: Cody.Pope@circleofblue.org