The Desert Locust plague of 1986-89 was an example how agricultural pests and diseases can easily spread across borders and cause emergencies. Locusts and other migratory pests can fly over great distances and threaten crops hundreds or thousands of kilometres away from their places of origin.
FAO has established the EMPRES programme in 1994 to minimize the risk of such emergencies developing. The Desert Locust is one of the first priority problems EMPRES is covering because of its ability to cause catastrophic plagues.
The programme initially concentrates in nine countries that border the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden which have historically been a source of many locust outbreaks and plagues: Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The programme is also being extended to West Africa.
EMPRES attempts a new approach to an old problem by emphasizing early warning, early reaction and research . Instead of creating new infrastructure or replacing current programmes, EMPRES will strengthen existing survey and control in affected countries and the Desert Locust Information Service at FAO.
EMPRES is a coordinated effort between FAO and its partners - locust-affected countries, donors, regional organizations and other institutes - aimed at developing a sustainable preventive stategy against the Desert Locust.
The Desert Locust component of EMPRES is executed by FAO's Plant Protection Service.