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Bobby Ghosh

Locusts, Pandemics, Floods: East Africa Can’t Catch a Break

A deadly mix of plagues could create food insecurity in one of the continent’s most vibrant regions.

Misery loves company.

Misery loves company.

Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

How much more calamity can East Africa take? Already struggling with the twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic and a Biblical scourge of locusts, the region is now being lashed by exceptionally heavy rainfall, with floods that threaten life and livelihood from Ethiopia to Tanzania, and all parts in between.

For the continent’s most economically vibrant region, the trifecta of tribulations may well add up to a fourth: food scarcity. This ghost from East Africa’s past could hardly have picked a worse moment to return. The world is distracted by the pandemic, and traditional sources of succor—the U.S. and Europe—face their own economic distress. China, the region’s economic partner of choice in recent years, has not yet demonstrated the ability (or indeed the desire) to fill the vacuum.