Gone with the wind: Measuring the effect of desert locust outbreaks
35 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2022 Last revised: 22 Sep 2022
Date Written: September 22, 2022
Desert locust outbreaks and other pests pose a significant threat to food security for millions of people. In this paper, we exploit knowledge of locust swarms’ behaviour, the underlying treatment assignment mechanism, to identify areas likely exposed to the pest, to simulate counterfactual shock exposure, and to measure the causal effect of locust swarms on farm profits. Our identification strategy relies on modelling swarms’ move- ments based on local climatic and environmental characteristics. Through simulations of the flight route using historical values of its determinants, we show that a desert locust shock exhibits systematic geographic variation in its exposure. We compare areas identi- fied as treated to their control counterparts, and propose to condition on their expected exposure to correct for the selection bias. The findings suggest a farm profit loss of around 165% in areas hit by the shock, and a sizeable non random exposure bias.
Keywords: agricultural shocks, desert locust swarms, Development, climate change, farm profits, Ethiopia
JEL Classification: C21, D13, Q12, Q18, Q54
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation