USAID Assists in Aftermath of Liberia's Caterpillar Infestation

For Immediate Release

Friday, February 6, 2009
USAID Press Office

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing assistance after a caterpillar infestation in Liberia has destroyed crops, contaminated water supplies, and temporarily forced residents from homes and farms in three counties in northern and central Liberia, particularly Bong County.

In response to the infestation, USAID is providing $100,000 for pest-control activities and water and sanitation programs in areas contaminated by caterpillar excrement. In addition, two USAID experts arrived in Monrovia on February 2 to conduct an environmental assessment of the infestation.

"The American people are standing by Liberians in their time of need," said U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. "We will work closely with the Liberian government's task force to help meet immediate needs, and we will look for longer term solutions to minimize effects of future pest infestations."

According to international media reports, the infestation has affected more than 500,000 people residing in approximately 100 villages. The Government of Liberia reported that the current infestation is the country's worst in three decades, and dispatched pest-control experts and insecticide-spraying teams to affected areas. On February 4, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that although caterpillars had affected agriculture, the infestation had not damaged staple crops, such as maize, rice, sorghum, and millet. On January 26, the President of Liberia declared a nationwide state of emergency and requested international assistance.

USAID will continue to monitor the situation in conjunction with humanitarian partners and is prepared to provide additional assistance should it be necessary.

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