FAO: 50 years in the locust business
FAO has been for over 50 years a world authority on desert locusts, providing leadership, continuity, global information and forecasting, technical support, training, funding and a neutral forum much needed by locust-affected and other interested countries. With offices around the world, FAO monitors desert locust activity in 30 countries from Senegal to India.
Many donors channel money through FAO for locust control because the Organization can coordinate actions among affected countries as well as among donors. Such coordination reduces the risk of duplicate purchases of goods and services in any given country - a possibility if funding comes from multiple sources.
"We receive all FAO's information and we follow closely the situation in Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, and even as far away as Sudan," confirms General Hammou Hajoui, assistant national coordinator at the Moroccan Locust Campaign Headquarters. "During the emergency we meet weekly with the FAO Representative here."
"FAO gave us money for 300 GPSs and state-of-the-art radios, which were very much appreciated," says Ahmed Mouhim, assistant director of the National Centre for Locust Control in Morocco. "The FAO Desert Locust Commission is very useful too because it provides continuity during locust recessions. It even facilitates joint surveys, during which, for example, experts from two or three countries can do a survey together. I myself just spent two months in Mauritania under FAO's auspices and it helps me better understand locust reports from that area."
"We prefer to go through FAO when we want to lend our experts to other countries. It's faster and they pay living expenses for the expert," says Abdelaziz Arifi, senior adviser on locusts to the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
FAO's Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES) is trying to strengthen the weak links in the locust-fighting chain.
"Our aim is to avoid what is happening now," says Mohamed Lemine, EMPRES officer for the Sahel based in Mauritania. "We can't do that if we don't have a surveillance and early reaction system in the Sahel. We are working to improve technical and operational capacity in Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal."
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