2-13 November 2001
Evaluation Report on EMPRES (Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases)
i. Building on work undertaken by FAO to combat the scourge of epidemic animal diseases and plant pests, in 1996 the Organization launched the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES). The programme has two components - one on animal health and the other on plant pests, specifically desert locusts.
ii. After six years of operation it was felt opportune to undertake an evaluation of this priority programme. The evaluation was carried out by independent external consultants and FAO Evaluation Service staff. A preliminary report is being made available to the Conference/WFS:fyl for information.
iii. The evaluation will be finalised and presented for consideration by the Governing Bodies in the normal way, together with the response of management to the evaluation findings and recommendations. It is anticipated that the EMPRES animal health component will be included in the context of a wider programme evaluation of FAO's animal health work (including a thematic evaluation of TCP projects in that area). The evaluation of the EMPRES locust component will be considered separately. Both evaluations are expected to be presented to the May 2002 session of the Programme Committee and will be subjected to external peer reviews prior to presentation.
iv. It is encouraging to note that the preliminary findings of the overall EMPRES evaluation indicate evidence of sustainable impact from FAO's work, while at the same time noting further areas for strengthening and improvement.
1. Upon taking office in January 1994, the Director-General selected two areas for special emphasis by FAO, i.e. enhanced world food security and reduced incidence of transboundary animal diseases and plant pests. Thus, he sought the mandate of the Governing Council and Conference to establish two new Special Programmes to address these fundamental issues. The first is the Special Programme on Food Security, and the second is the Emergency Prevention System for transboundary animal and plant pests and diseases (EMPRES). In 1994, the 106th Council approved the Director-General's proposal to set up EMPRES.
2. The objectives of EMPRES have been endorsed by the World Food Summit through Objective 3.1 of Commitment Three of The World Food Summit Plan of Action, which states inter alia that international institutions will "seek to secure effective prevention and progressive control of plant and animal pests and diseases, including especially those which are of transboundary nature, where outbreaks can cause major food shortages, destabilise markets and trigger trade measures; and promote concurrently, regional collaboration in plant pests and animal disease control and widespread development and use of integrated pest management practices".
3. At the same time, Objective 5.2 of Commitment Five states inter alia that international organizations will "maintain, promote and establish, as quickly as possible, in collaboration with non-governmental organizations and other organizations, as appropriate, the preparedness strategies and mechanisms agreed upon at the International Conference on Nutrition (ICN), including development and application of climate forecast information for surveillance and early-warning, drought, flood, other natural disasters, pests and animal disease alertness".
4. Although its mandate covers several transboundary plant pest problems, the initial focus of the EMPRES plant pests component has been on desert locusts. The animal disease component has addressed a variety of transboundary disease problems, but the primary emphasis thus far has been to rid the world of rinderpest by 2010. The two components are conceptually similar, but involve different disciplines and authorities, both in governments and in FAO, and have been executed largely separately.
5. An EMPRES Steering Committee chaired by the Director-General and consisting of Assistant Directors-General of key departments and Divisional Directors met annually until 1996 to provide direction during establishment of the Programme. For the animal component, EMPRES-Livestock, FAO has established a management unit within its Animal Health Service (AGAH), to be responsible for continuing implementation of the programme, including liaison with the Joint FAO-IAEA Division (AGE). The plant component, EMPRES-Desert Locust, has been executed by the Plant Protection Service (AGPP) in FAO, with progress reviewed annually by a Consultative Committee (comprising senior representatives of the countries concerned, other organizations, donors and AGPP staff). An annual meeting of EMPRES liaison officers is also held, at which a workplan is drawn up for the following year. Each participating country appoints one liaison officer, as does the Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa (DLCOEA).
6. Given that the EMPRES Programme has been under implementation for some 6 years, the Director-General felt it timely that the Programme's performance to date be reviewed in depth and the findings be shared with the FAO membership.1 The evaluation that follows examines the two components separately.
7. The EMPRES-Livestock Programme responds to the threat to developing countries of infectious livestock diseases, especially those that are of significant economic, trade and/or food security importance. The vision is "to promote the effective containment and control of the most serious epidemic livestock diseases as well as newly-emerging diseases by progressive elimination on a regional and global basis through international cooperation involving early warning, early/rapid reaction, enabling research and co-ordination". Within the programme, the primary focus has been on elimination of rinderpest.
8. Expert consultations have been held each year since 1996 to provide guidance. The expert consultation in 1997 recommended an independent review of the programme that was conducted in 1998 by evaluating the operations at FAO Headquarters and assessing the progress with international organizations in Europe that are key implementing partners. The review recognised the comparative advantages of FAO in addressing transboundary livestock disease control, including the high level of support for the programme and the staff responsible for its implementation. It also identified weaknesses, including a need to streamline its roles and operating methods and effects of excessive workload, exacerbated by the need to give operational priority to animal disease emergencies at the expense of progress with normative work activities. It was impressed with progress made, and highlighted the continued need for effective and efficient implementation at country level of the EMPRES-Livestock Programme. Key factors needed for success were considered to include:
9. Following the evaluation, a GREP Secretariat has been established with more clearly defined responsibilities within the AGAH Infectious Diseases Group. The introduction of new programme planning procedures in FAO have also resulted in improved management and planning of EMPRES activities. Documented objectives, expected outputs and transparent budgeting enable better monitoring of progress.
10. Recently, there has been an increased visibility of the risk of the spread of livestock diseases, with epidemics of foot-and-mouth disease and classical swine fever causing serious disruption and economic loss in Europe and elsewhere and the implications of BSE now known to include its transmissibility to humans. The OECD countries recognise the impact of transboundary livestock diseases on developing countries where they cause periodic and dramatic losses and contribute to excluding developing countries from the potential benefits of globalisation of trade in livestock products.
11. The present evaluation of EMPRES-Livestock was directed to examine the validity and extent to which the programme, normally with TCP assistance, has supported the following approach:
12. The evaluation is focussed on activities at country level but also draws on the 1998 review. It was undertaken through missions to 15 countries in West, East and Southern Africa, the Near East and Asia2 and included activities in Headquarters and in the Regional Offices for Africa, the Near East and Asia and the Pacific.
13. The four identified components of EMPRES are early warning of and rapid reaction to outbreaks of disease and enabling research and coordination for progressive elimination of diseases on a regional and global basis. Briefly, the four components are:
14. The Regular Programme funding is US$625,000 per year for staff costs and US$544,000 per year for non-staff costs in the current biennium. Extra-budgetary funding since 1994 has been US$15.7 million, of which US$6.3 million have been from the EU (for support to PARC/PACE and PANVAC) and US$5.4 million from Australia (for an FMD project in the Philippines). Other donors have included Japan, Ireland, IFAD and UNDP. TCP funding for EMPRES-related projects has been in the order of US$20.6 million for the period since 1994, as shown in the table below:
EMPRES-Livestock: TCP Funding since 1994
|Total 1994 - 2001 (to September)||20,613,200|
15. The major thrust of the EMPRES activity for early warning has been disease information management (collection, evaluation and decision-making). A primary tool for this has been the development of software for a Transboundary Animal Disease Information System - TADinfo. The programme provides for recording and analysis of disease information gained from reports of outbreaks, structured surveillance exercises and other sources.
16. There is a range of options available to countries identifying the need for a disease information database, including development of their own database or modification of another product. TADinfo offers the important benefit to countries of having a purpose-built system that will be maintained and upgraded at minimal expense to them, since the bulk of the work will be done by FAO.
17. TADinfo has been adopted by several countries as their national animal disease database, including Tanzania, Malawi, Namibia, Ghana, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. It is under consideration or about to be adopted by others, including Uganda, Kenya, Thailand and Vietnam. The programme is being developed in a regional as well as the national version and is already being used as a central system within SADC and will also be applied in an ASEAN network, both with TCP funding assistance. It is being translated into French, which is expected to facilitate its adoption in West African countries. While there are regional and international benefits to standardisation, it is not essential to the success of TADinfo that it is universally adopted, as data can be moved between different databases. TADinfo is a major contribution to support of early warning systems. It is recommended that its promotion and further development should continue as planned, in the expectation that it will gain a high level of adoption and become a critical component of transboundary disease intelligence.
18. However, EMPRES staff have long recognised that data collection in the field is by far the greatest challenge, especially in the situation of developing countries. Surveillance systems, both passive and active, have been promoted. This has been done particularly in the context of GREP, where countries have become provisionally free, are vulnerable to re-introduction of disease or spread from residual foci and where early detection is critical. Such activities are embodied in the EU-funded and FAO implemented epidemiology component of the PACE programme and have featured prominently in TCPs directed toward rinderpest eradication. The surveillance systems have also featured in other TCP activity, such as FMD control. The EMPRES Programme has developed considerable disease surveillance material, all of which is of a high standard and represents a valuable resource to countries that commonly have difficulty accessing current information.
19. Several countries have been assisted in the development of early warning systems. Much implementation activity has revolved around finding the appropriate means of collecting and reporting disease information, including through programmes to develop privatised delivery of basic animal health services, where government delivery of services is weak and in particular, in areas where nomadism constrains access to livestock. In such programmes, the collection and transmission of disease information to a central planning unit must be regarded as a public good that should be appropriately funded. Privatised basic veterinary services cannot be expected to collect the required information without compensation.
20. A key component of Early Warning is the Regional Animal Disease Surveillance and Control Network for North Africa, the Middle East and the Arab Peninsula (RADISCON). This was established by FAO in partnership with IFAD in 1996 and has sought to strengthen disease surveillance and communication within and between countries. At a time when it is being further enhanced by the introduction of TADinfo, it is under threat from uncertain funding as it is supported through an IFAD Technical Service Grant which is not renewable and is currently in a bridging phase for 2001. It is recommended that the value of RADISCON should be recognised and every effort made to secure continuing funding until such time as it can be self-sustaining.
21. The emphasis here has been on promoting the principles of contingency planning and emergency preparedness in order to have a capability for rapid response to a disease incursion. Excellent contingency planning guides have been prepared both for generic plans and specifically for rinderpest and African Swine Fever. Multi-media software, available on the web and CD, called Good Emergency Management Practices, has recently been launched and distributed to Chief Veterinary Officers of FAO member countries. It is aimed at promoting an EMPRES Code of Conduct for dealing with animal health emergencies. Workshops on contingency planning have been conducted in Africa, Central Europe and Asia and the preparation of rinderpest contingency plans has been assisted within several rinderpest TCPs, including those in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. In some countries visited, improved contingency planning has been undertaken. Recent outbreaks of FMD in South Africa have forced national and provincial authorities to review their contingency plans. In Thailand, the need for a contingency plan for FMD has been recognised, even though the disease is endemic. The plan provides for a response to the introduction of a new virus type or to an increase in disease incidence to epidemic levels.
22. The concept of contingency planning has not been easy to promote. For countries with scarce resources and weak management and planning structures, concerns are generally focussed on the very short term. Examples of contingency plans seen by the evaluation mission generally reflected the EMPRES template, presented as an ideal response situation, which did not accommodate the manifest constraints under which veterinary authorities in developing countries operate. This suggests that personnel in many countries have not really grasped the essence of contingency planning, as a dynamic process in which constraints are identified, prioritised and progressively addressed to improve the response capability. It is recommended that the programme should strengthen its field presence at country level to instil a real commitment to contingency planning and provide intensive assistance in the preliminary stages of plan development. In the current financial situation of FAO, this would require extra-budgetary funds.
23. Due to its emphasis on field work, the evaluation had only limited opportunity for a detailed review of this component. However, it is clear that the support of FAO for research in priority diseases and the support of reference laboratories in disease control programmes is greatly appreciated by countries engaged in disease control activities. The role of the Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright, UK, as the World Reference Laboratory for both rinderpest and FMD, is particularly important, as it provides a source of verification for national laboratory testing and facilitates the application of molecular epidemiology for tracing the spread of pathogens. The laboratory of the "Institut d'Elevage et Médecine Vétérinaire" at Montpellier has been designated as the World Reference Laboratory for contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) and has been involved with the Pan-African Veterinary Vaccine Centre (PANVAC) in standardising new vaccine strains for "peste des petits ruminants" (PPR) and CBPP. A Japan-funded project has enabled EMPRES through PANVAC to promote vaccine technology transfer, standardisation and quality assurance principles for vaccines in Africa. Recently PANVAC has published a method for cost-effective production of heat stable vaccines. While this technology is highly relevant to Africa and South Asia, the continuity of such work at PANVAC is threatened by lack of funding since the funding from Japan ends in 2001.
24. The FAO-IAEA Joint Division on Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture has been instrumental in introducing and expanding diagnostic capabilities in developing countries, with initial emphasis on rinderpest diagnosis and on enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) as the appropriate technology. Subsequently, the programme has expanded to include PPR, FMD, CBPP, swine fever and other diseases. The range of diagnostic technology has also expanded, especially into polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques for detection and characterisation of pathogens. The Joint Division activities have been closely coordinated with the programme's support so that the introduction of laboratory diagnostic capability has been directly linked to addressing disease control needs. The programme usually seeks to support one laboratory only in any one country, as the most efficient means of ensuring sustainability. This is appropriate as laboratory operations are usually constrained by high operational costs and a lack of adequately qualified staff.
25. With the programme's main focus on global rinderpest eradication, the GREP Secretariat has been the most important coordinating activity. FAO also provides a secretariat for the European Commission for the Control of FMD. In Asia, it coordinates the Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific (APHCA), providing for workshops and other means of communication within the Asia Region and acting as a source of information for livestock production and disease. In Southeast Asia, OIE has a coordinating role for FMD control. FAO works closely with this unit in promoting a regional approach to FMD control. As a result of the work of RADISCON, an Animal Health Commission for the Near East and North Africa will soon be created.
26. Coordination of GREP has appropriately been a major focus of EMPRES activity. Establishment of the campaign was the turning point for the conversion of separate initiatives in regional rinderpest eradication into a programme with a truly global vision. In several situations, TCP funding has been used to excellent effect to control rinderpest outbreaks rapidly and efficiently. Few other donors have this rapid response capability and it is a function that is highly appreciated by recipient countries. TCPs have resulted in the containment and elimination of rinderpest from foci identified in Kenya and northern Tanzania (the latter with additional UNDP funding) and in Afghanistan in 1996/97. They have produced a much improved situation in Pakistan which is now in a good situation to proceed with eradication, with additional EU funding for rinderpest epidemiological studies, and assisted Uganda in maintaining freedom from clinical disease and proceeding toward provisional freedom. Other actual or potential residual foci of infection in Sudan and Somalia have been identified and plans are being put into place to address these, under difficult circumstances.
27. FAO has also had operational responsibilities in the implementation of the EU-funded Pan-African Rinderpest Campaign (PARC) and the programme for Pan-African Control of Epizootics (PACE). The activities have included epidemiological support and technical assistance to PANVAC. The complex relationships between the EU as donor, OAU-IBAR as the implementing agency and FAO as the provider of technical assistance to these two programmes has led to some debate over management responsibilities. The maintenance of good relationships between the agencies is obviously critical to the success of GREP.
28. Targets for GREP have been established for the five-year period of 1998-2003 against which progress can be assessed. Work in all geographic areas is either on schedule or ahead of target, with the single exception of southern Somalia.
29. In anticipation of global serosurveillance to prove freedom, it has been recognised that problems with security in some areas would preclude advancing along the OIE Pathway for verification of freedom, as required for international trade purposes. Rather than proceeding with this verification on a national basis, it has been proposed that an approach be taken of recognising seven agro-ecological zones as the basis for verifying freedom.
30. The GREP Secretariat has mapped out an action plan for final verification of global freedom, which would achieve the target of eradication by the year 2010. The plan has components for the elimination of residual reservoirs of infection, managing cessation of vaccination and establishment of the verification process. Intensive public awareness is a critical component in the final verification steps.
31. GREP has entered a critical stage whereby on the one hand targeted action is needed to eliminate the remaining three foci of suspected rinderpest while on the other, GREP needs to lead a sustained six-year programme for international verification of world-wide rinderpest freedom. While funding for the former objective is forthcoming, that for the verification objective is not assured. It is recommended that strong efforts be made to ensure funding for the verification process, without which there is an increased risk for re-emergence of rinderpest.
32. There is widespread support for the EMPRES Programme among countries visited by the missions. FAO is acknowledged as the leader and the main source of technical expertise for promoting transboundary livestock disease early warning and emergency response planning. However, the missions have identified some future issues for the programme. These include:
33. Developing countries are responding to the concepts that are being promoted by FAO. In an environment in which there has been considerable disillusionment with central veterinary (and other government) delivery of services, there has been a growing inclination by donors to promote local service delivery. However, it is recognised by veterinary authorities in recipient countries, and by donors supporting transboundary disease control activities, that there needs to be central epidemiological intelligence through a flow of information to the national level and beyond, for appropriate strategy planning. It is important that the EMPRES-Livestock programme promotes the need for disease surveillance, including systems for communication of information from the field to national disease control authorities. It is recommended that FAO continue to promote improvement of disease surveillance systems, including at the national level and through dialogue with partners in the donor community.
34. The need for contingency planning is clear in countries under threat of rinderpest introduction in the face of provisional freedom where vaccination has ceased, as is surveillance for early recognition of an incursion. GREP has therefore been an excellent vehicle for the promotion of EMPRES. Two different but important points need to be kept in mind here. First, effective contingency planning is constrained by the very limited resources and poor technical capability of many veterinary services, which often means that they are overwhelmed with responding to immediate needs. Second, rinderpest control and eradication has been greatly facilitated by the availability of highly efficacious vaccines. There is a risk that stakeholders may develop expectations of similar success to GREP, in the control of other strategic diseases for which long-lasting vaccines are not available and control of which is more dependent on other factors, particularly livestock movement control. It will be much more difficult to control other major transboundary diseases, such as contagious bovine pleuropneumonia or foot-and-mouth disease.
35. In encouraging emergency prevention planning for most other diseases, there are some conceptual difficulties. Where a transboundary disease is endemic, its control usually does not have the urgency implied in "emergency prevention". It is difficult for personnel in a country where FMD is endemic, to appreciate why they should undertake contingency planning (even though there are circumstances for which they should, such as introduction of a new virus type), when their concern is more likely to be with planning routine control activities. The 1998 EMPRES review recommended the development of criteria for inclusion of new diseases in the programme. Rather than disease lists, it is recommended that strategic diseases for global or regional elimination may be recognised (e.g. perhaps classical swine fever in the Americas), but that for most interventions it may be more useful to recognise transboundary disease events or situations, when the threat to a country is from an external source and promote early warning and early reaction activities in these circumstances. For example, it appears that for Thailand at present, a priority transboundary disease concern is Nipah virus, which is not recognised as an EMPRES priority disease.
36. Another possible conceptual problem has been brought about by the apparent linking of the need for surveillance, to early warning. In fact, surveillance is a basic necessity for all disease control activities and EMPRES promotes the need to improve mechanisms for disease surveillance, reporting and epidemiological analysis for the effective planning of disease control activities. Therefore, what is required and what EMPRES promotes, is to address a broader need than simply a requirement for "emergency prevention" and this leads to confusion over exactly how broad is the mandate of EMPRES. It can similarly be argued that the roles of EMPRES in promoting enabling research and providing a coordinating role in disease control are equally appropriate outside of situations of emergency prevention of transboundary disease. It is recommended that AGAH seek to redefine EMPRES to make it clear, if indeed it is the case, that its mandate is broader than just "emergency prevention" and embraces the strengthening or establishment of surveillance, epidemiology, control and eradication planning and policies for disease situations with transboundary implications.
37. Much of the implementation of EMPRES principles has been effected by way of TCPs relating to emergency disease response. This has been an appropriate means of promoting EMPRES, as it places it in a specific context. However, there is a continuing shortage of personnel in the EMPRES-Livestock group, which causes management difficulties in maintaining planned normative activities in the face of unplanned emergency operational responses. Either the staff shortage should be redressed or there should be greater discrimination applied to the acceptance of TCP requests, based on prioritisation of TCP activity with ongoing normative programme activities. But there is another issue. Larger-scale application of EMPRES at country level will not progress very quickly through TCP alone and will depend on FAO convincing governments and donors of the need for early warning and reaction capabilities and obtaining investments in those areas. Progress with donors has, to date, been disappointing. It is recommended that FAO should greatly intensify its efforts to obtain extra-budgetary funding for EMPRES activities. This could include working with countries and donors engaged in the strengthening of veterinary services generally, to ensure that the needs of emergency planning and response requirements are realistically addressed, taking into account country capacity, in a manner which is likely to be sustainable.
38. The EMPRES component for Desert Locusts covers three regions: the Central Region (EMPRES/CR, covering the Red Sea area), the Western Region (EMPRES/WR, North Africa and Sahelian countries) and the Eastern Region (four countries in Southwest Asia) It was decided that the initial focus should be on the Central Region, in which many locust plagues were thought to have originated. The EMPRES/CR programme, formulated during 1994-95 for multi-phased implementation, began operations in 1997 after an extended period of consultations with the locust-affected countries and donors. The EMPRES/WR was originally formulated in 1997, following the Conference recommendation in 1995 for the extension of the EMPRES Desert Locust component to the region. Although the WR programme envisages a substantial donor support of some US$8.5 million, this has not yet materialised and negotiations have been continued with potential donors: in the meantime, the programme has been revised with the participation of countries concerned in 1998 and 2001.
39. This evaluation was carried out by a mission comprising an FAO Evaluation Officer and an independent Desert Locust specialist, which visited six participating countries (Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen), and held discussions in Rome with a senior member of the Moroccan Centre National de Lutte Anti-Acridienne and the Secretary of the new FAO Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Western Region (CLCPRO). Although the mission could not visit all EMPRES/CR and EMPRES/WR countries or donor agencies, the evaluation reflects responses to questionnaires sent out to EMPRES collaborators, donors and desert locust researchers prior to the mission. It also draws on the 1999 evaluation of the EMPRES/CR.
40. The first phase of EMPRES/CR (1997-2000) was evaluated in 1999, leading to some important changes in the implementation arrangements. Among others, a revised programme document was prepared, which more clearly identified the two major axes of the programme strategy, i.e. a strong preventive character and an important learning component. Prevention is to be achieved through an improved early warning and forecasting system and by strengthening the capacity of locust control services in the region for monitoring, survey and control. The learning component addresses research to fill several gaps in knowledge of desert locust ecology and management and potential introduction of new technologies. The Phase I was completed at the end of 2000 and a second phase of three years has been embarked upon in 2001.
41. Phase I was financially supported by the FAO Regular Programme (including a TCP project for a locust outbreak in Eritrea) and trust fund projects funded by Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and the USA. It also benefited from funds allocated to EMPRES as a whole by Belgium, France and Japan as well as from bilateral support from the UK. Excluding the bilateral contribution, the total funding for Phase I amounted to some US$5.5 million. For Phase II, some US$4.4 million is available from four donors (the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and USA). The UK and Germany are providing support bilaterally.
42. The programme document for Phase II has an overall goal "to strengthen the capabilities and capacities of national, regional and international components of the Desert Locust management system to implement effective and efficient preventive control strategies based on early warning and timely, environmentally sound early control interventions". The main specific achievements expected are:
43. As noted above, the programme is not yet fully operational, pending receipt of donor contributions. However, pilot activities have started under FAO Regular Programme funding and a Norwegian/FAO Trust Fund project "Improving Pesticide Application Techniques for Desert Locust Control" (GCP/INT/651/NOR). In addition, a few TCP projects have been implemented in the region, and EMPRES/WR has benefited in the same way as EMPRES/CR from inter-regional projects funded by Belgium and the USA, and bilaterally by the UK, France and the Netherlands have also contributed to the cost of preparatory activities.
44. The purpose of the programme is "to establish a preventive Desert Locust control system through strengthening and/or creation of national control units and regional control unit, and to define the basis for ensuring sustainability". The specific expected achievements are similar to those under the EMPRES/CR.
45. Those countries visited by the EMPRES evaluation mission continue to regard the preventive control of the Desert Locust as a high national priority. The perceived social, economic and environmental benefits of an effective Desert Locust preventive control programme are considered by the national governments involved to be in the "national interest". This view was reinforced by the results of questionnaires received from the EMPRES countries. In some countries, the importance of preventive Desert Locust control has been reflected in increased financial resources allocated by national governments since the implementation of the EMPRES programme. Likewise, regional collaboration in the form of joint surveys has increased among some countries. These are seen as significant steps towards the development of a sustainable preventive control programme. However, much remains to be done, even in the Central Region where EMPRES has been operational for five years, in order to achieve sustainable preventive control of the Desert Locust.
46. In the Central Region, progress has been made towards the objectives of EMPRES/CR but in some cases, achievements at the level of individual countries have been less than anticipated for a number of reasons, including external factors such as war, and internal ones such as inadequate budget allocations. Similarly, delays in introduction of legislation potentially diminish the effective central coordination of Desert Locust surveys. The net result has been that in some countries, the development and adoption of systems to implement effective early warning and control of Desert Locust are progressing satisfactorily, whilst in other countries progress has been impeded to various significant degrees.
47. At the strategic level, important steps have been taken towards the development of a sustainable Desert Locust preventive control programme, including enhanced coordination and harmonisation among the participating countries. Measures of progress in this regard include:
48. The current Phase II of EMPRES/CR is essentially one of consolidation, and substantial improvement has been made in programme management during the last two years (which was a critical issue identified by the preceding evaluation mission in 1999). Rigorous workplanning and internal monitoring and evaluation procedures have been significant factors in this regard. Collaboration with the CRC has been strengthened through joint workplanning and sharing some training activities, and key communications network among the countries has been upgraded. EMPRES/CR has also substantially improved the expertise of Desert Locust staff in the region through a series of more focused training courses, and has also created a cadre of national (master) trainers that can pass on the expertise to a larger number of staff.
49. However, the evaluation mission was concerned whether the objectives of the current phase could be fully achieved in the remaining time available. While some countries have gone ahead in reviewing and transforming their Desert Locust systems with the support of EMPRES/CR, others are - for various reasons - still reluctant to commit themselves to the kind of systematic analysis and planning envisaged by EMPRES, including significant delays in implementing early warning and control systems. In particular, the evaluation mission has concerns over significant, continuing delays in implementing important activities in at least one country despite several attempts by FAO (AGPP) management to resolve the issues involved. It is recommended that FAO monitor closely the progress made by countries experiencing implementation delays and that in the event that the issues are not resolved in the immediate future, it should consider what options may be available, including the involvement of high-level FAO management.
50. Similarly, the mission is concerned with delays in the implementation of Country Focus Programmes (CFPs), which were introduced in three countries during the first phase. The CFP exercise analyses the main features of a country's Desert Locust management system and development plans and strategies for future action. CFPs are to serve as an important analytical tool to improve survey and control procedures and also as a mechanism to build ownership within EMPRES. It is recommended that the development of CFPs receive continued priority as an important tool and EMPRES/CR should renew efforts to assist countries to develop CFPs.
51. Another source of concern is the programme staffing level. The programme in the Central Region is both ambitious and complex and the mission considers that the staffing level in the field (2 international staff, 1 Associate Professional Officer, 2 National Professional Officers) is at the minimal required level. In the light of the planned workload for the remaining period, additional staff resources would be strongly desirable in the areas of campaign evaluation, strategy development and economics. It is recommended that FAO consider the establishment of an additional technical position to assist in the implementation of EMPRES/CR activities.
52. In the Western Region, the primary purpose of EMPRES is the strengthening of early warning and preventive control in the Sahelian countries of the region. The countries of the Maghreb have their own Desert Locust Units which are, in general, adequately funded and properly equipped. However, with the exception of Mauritania, the EMPRES/WR programme as a whole cannot be considered operational due to a lack of financial support by donors. Despite this limitation, significant progress has been made in two areas.
53. Firstly, the establishment of a unified Desert Locust regional structure by amplifying the membership of the CLCPANO (FAO Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in North West Africa) and creating CLCPRO (the new FAO Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Western Region), is seen as an important step for sustainable preventive control of Desert Locust in the region. The agreement to create CLCPRO is expected to be ratified shortly by a sufficient number of countries.
54. Secondly, the evaluation mission recognises that exceptional progress has been made in the development of an effective Desert Locust survey and control system in Mauritania. The activities in Mauritania clearly demonstrated what EMPRES could achieve in terms of the core programme objectives of effective and efficient early warning, survey and early control and high-quality operational research. The evaluation mission considers the Mauritania model a best practice model for other Sahelian countries to follow should donor funding become available. However, despite the impressive achievements in Mauritania, the overall future of EMPRES/WR in the Western Region is uncertain unless external funding can be secured.
55. At the time of writing of this report, only one donor is supporting EMPRES/WR on a small scale (USAID), one is supporting a specific project (Norway) and one has indicated that major support would be provided (EU). This latter support would be provided to the Sahelian countries of the Western Region for a two-year period but does not appear to include technical assistance inputs, which is of concern to the evaluation mission. The possible reasons for the lack of response by donors to EMPRES/WR have not, as far as the evaluation mission is aware, been identified. It is recommended that FAO should increase efforts with donors to fund EMPRES/WR activities.
56. Ultimately, the future of the EMPRES - Desert Locust Programme will depend on the availability of future funding. Going by the resources pledged so far, it is uncertain that the international donor community views preventive control of Desert Locust as a high enough priority to support the full expansion of the programme to the Western Region and to maintain the Central Region programme beyond 2003. One of the possible reasons for the difficulty in attracting donor funding may well be the lack of clearly demonstrated benefits accruing from preventive control. Also, the general absence of significant Desert Locust populations in the Central and Western Regions in the past few years may have reduced the threat coming from Desert Locusts in the public awareness. It has meant that there have been limited opportunities to undertake field research to develop improved preventive control techniques and strategies. While FAO seeks donor views on the EMPRES Desert Locust Programme in various fora (EMPRES Central Region Consultative Committee, Desert Locust Control Committee, EMPRES planning workshops), nevertheless it is recommended that the dialogue with donors be intensified in order to obtain their support, including by conducting further research on the economic benefits of preventive Desert Locust control3.
57. Whilst there has been some linkages and cooperation between EMPRES/CR and EMPRES/WR, this needs to be strengthened. This will depend almost exclusively on the future of EMPRES/WR and whether the Norwegian project is extended. If the Norwegian-funded project were extended, the evaluation mission would see merit in the two programmes developing closer linkages. It is recommended that the development of joint research activities and joint training programmes between EMPRES/WR and EMPRES/CR should be considered to ensure efficient use of resources, standardisation of approaches and a more general exchange of ideas.
58. Finally, the possible involvement of the countries of the Eastern Region, comprising India, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, in the EMPRES framework is being considered by FAO. FAO plans to seek donor support for EMPRES activities in the region. It is recommended that the possibility of improved access to EMPRES information such as research results and training via the Internet would be useful area to develop further.
59. The two EMPRES components have different priorities and methods of operation. Nonetheless, a few themes common to both evaluations bear noting.
60. The evaluations noted an improved management structure and clarity in priorities in both the Animal Health component and the Desert Locust component. This is encouraging. It can be attributed to responsiveness on the part of management of both components to earlier evaluations and to the new programming method in FAO that demands clearer goal-setting.
61. Both evaluations noted the difficulties for governments to prepare contingency plans. This is a complex and longer-term issue, which involves generally weak planning capabilities that need strengthening, and a reluctance to devote scarce resources to preparing for situations that may or may not occur.
62. Another common feature is that both programmes have a low level of staffing, compared to the tasks faced. Given FAO's current financial situation, this problem is not likely to be resolved in the near future and will likely constrain the development of EMPRES into areas not presently covered.
63. Finally, donor funding of the two programmes has been very uneven. The Desert Locust component has attracted a good level of donor support for the initial Central Region programme but funding is uncertain for the expansion of the programme to the Western Region and for the future. The Animal Health component has had a relatively low level of donor funding and increasing efforts to attract donor funding should be an important future priority.
1 The evaluation was carried out by three independent, external consultants and three members of the FAO Evaluation Service.
2 West Africa: Mali, Ghana, Benin, Togo; Eastern and Southern Africa: Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa; Near East: Egypt; Asia: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Thailand.
3 See also Part III Economic Impacts of Transboundary Pests and Animal Diseases, SOFA 2001, pp. 199-276, FAO 2001.