The Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), in partnership with Mercy Corps and the Ministry of Agriculture, has developed and availed a WhatsApp desert locust hotline for businesses. The new hotline will provide emergency services and support the government through ongoing data collection and surveillance work regarding the recent locust swarm in the country.
Information about the location of desert locusts, their nature and their movement can be found on this hotline. The information is also shared on the four-digit ATA-run farmer hotline, 8028. It is relayed through voice and texts messages to more than five million registered users across the country.
The 8028 hotline, which has a pre-populated chatbot, is also used to conduct surveys encompassing 11,000 development agents and 600 agricultural experts four times a week via text on the occurrence and movement of desert locusts in four regions of the country.
The new WhatsApp hotline is an addition to an application developed by Plant Village and the Food & Agriculture Organisation.