Region hit by rat plague

The UN’s Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia (EUE) has called on the government to investigate after a rat plague hit one of the poorest regions of the country.

It said an “in-depth professional” study was needed in order to tackle any future plagues that may hit Benishangul-Gumuz, a region of Ethiopia bordering Sudan.

Hundreds of hectares of crops have been infested, wiping out almost 90 percent of the potential harvest in two woredas (districts) of the region.

Farmers used chemicals to kill the rats but its haphazard use has prompted concerns that the outbreak could actually spread. It has also led to the deaths of local livestock such as hens
and wildlife such as monkeys and birds.

“If no adequate support is provided to the woredas...the pest will get a chance of reproducing and invading additional places and could do more damage to crops and domestic assets,” the report warned.

The EUE also reported that an outbreak of a rinderpest-like goat disease had broken out in parts of the region. The disease, which is called PPR (peste de petit ruminants), is deadly.

Local agriculture experts believe that the disease may have been transmitted into the area on infected animals from Sudan.

Officials told the EUE assessment team, which travelled to the region at the beginning of September, that thousands of goats had died.

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