As Locusts Swarmed East Africa, This Tech Helped Get Rid of Them

In 2020, billions of locusts descended on East African countries that had not seen them in decades.  The cause?  Unusual weather connected to climate change. Kenya last dealt with a plague of this scale more than 70 years ago; Ethiopia and Somalia, more than 30 years ago. Nineteen million farmers and herders across these three countries, which bore the brunt of the damage, saw their livelihoods severely affected.

Tech and crowdsourcing operations have proven useful in managing such locusts invasions more efficiently.  The app PlantVillage, for example, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help farmers in 60 countries, primarily in Africa, diagnose problems in their fields. Borrowing from PlantVillage’s blueprint, another app called eLocust3m was developed in just a month.  The success to date of these apps shows that crowdsourcing and artificial intelligence can be absolute game-changers for hundreds of millions of people as we adapt to climate change.

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