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Workshop and Lecture: "Program Mali-Nord (GTZ/KfW) - Coping with the locust plague in the Niger River Valley 2004"

Heuschreckeneinfall in Mali, 2004

This Workshop and Lecture by Henner Papendieck and Barbara Rocksloh-Papendieck takes place on October 28th, 2011 in Karl-Jaspers-Centre, Room 112, 2.00 p.m. - 7.00 p.m.

Henner Papendieck (economist) und Barbara Rocksloh-Papendieck (sociologist) coordinated the Mali-Nord (GTZ/KfW) program between 1994 and 2010, one of the biggest German development programs in Africa, south of the Sahara. In the summer of 2004 they were themselves confronted with the locusts incursion in the Niger river valley. In the workshop they describe the programs and people’s fight against the plague and present photographs, taken during the time.


In order to force the Pharao to let Moses and his people leave Egypt, God sent plagues The desert locusts were the eighth and last one among them: “They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields”. (Exodus, 10.5)

To this day desert locusts are among the great plagues of mankind. They live in the arid zones (less than 200mm rainfall a year) and proliferate explosively under special climatic circumstances, change their form and behavior, flock together in flying swarms and destroy the flora of the afflicted areas in their search for food and reproduction. One of the assignments of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), based in Rome, is to monitor the nest trees of the locusts (16 million square kilometre in approximately thirty countries), issue warnings and organise the fight against them. Because of these actions the period of time between an outbreak of a plague and the all-clear has been reduced to three years (1967-69; 1986-89), whereas it took up to ten years in the past.

Overall there were six great plagues of locusts in the 20th century and so far, only one in the 21st century. It lasted from 2004 to 2006 and came from south Mauritania, the biggest hatchery on the southern edge of the Sahara.