PC 88/5 (a)

Programme Committee

Eighty-eighth Session

Rome, 9-13 September 2002

Thematic Evaluation of Strategy A.3: Preparedness for, and effective and sustainable response to, Food and Agricultural Emergencies (Report prepared by the Evaluation Service)

Table of Contents



Agriculture Department (FAO)


Animal Health Service (FAO)


Water Resources, Development and Management Service (FAO)


Plant Protection Service (FAO)


Seed and Plant Genetic Resources Service (FAO)


Afghan Interim Authority


Advanced Real-Time Environmental Monitoring System


Caribbean Community


Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency


Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission


FAO Commission for Controlling Desert Locust in the Central Region


Catholic Relief Service


European Community


Emergency Coordination Group


Emergency Co-ordination Unit


Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases


Economic and Social Department (FAO)


Food Security and Agricultural Projects Analysis Service (FAO)


Global Information and Early Warning Service (FAO)


Office of the Assistant Director-General, ES (FAO)


Nutrition Programmes Service (FAO)


Early Warning and Food Information System


FAO Representative


Famine Early Warning System


Fisheries Department (FAO)


Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System


Forestry Department (FAO)


Field Programme


Food Security Assessment Scheme


Food Security Assessment Unit


Food Security Surveillance Unit


Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture


Geographical Information System


Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme


Inter-agency Standing Committee Working Group


International Fund for Agricultural Development


international financial institution


Intergovernmental Authority on Development


Inter-Agency Task Force on the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction


Medium-Term Plan


Non-Governmental Organization


National Project Director


Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs


official development assistance


Office for Sahelian Relief Operations – Office for Special Relief Operations


Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action on Disaster Prevention,
Mitigation and Preparedness and Post-Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation


Evaluation Service (FAO)


Rapid Agricultural Disaster Assessment Routine


Regional Animal Disease and Surveillance Control Network for North Africa, the Middle East and the Arab Peninsula


FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific


FAO Regional Office for Europe


Regular Programme


Southern African Development Community


Save the Children Fund-United Kingdom


Sustainable Development Department (FAO)


Environment and Natural Resources Service (FAO)


Transboundary Animal Disease Information System


Technical Cooperation Department (FAO)


Policy Assistance Division (FAO)


Technical Co-operation among Developing Countries


Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division (FAO)


Emergency Operations Service (FAO)


Rehabilitation and Humanitarian Policies Unit (FAO)


Special Emergency Programme Service (FAO)


Investment Centre Division (FAO)


Technical Cooperation Programme


Technical Project


United Nations Consolidated Appeal


United Nations Development Assistance Framework


United Nations Development Programme


Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees


United Nations Children’s Fund


United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo


United States Agency for International Development


Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping


World Food Programme


Executive Summary

i. The present evaluation is the first in-depth review of FAO activities contributing to a particular Strategic Objective since the FAO Strategic Framework 2000-2015 became operational. Strategic Objective A3 (“Preparedness for, and effective and sustainable response to, food and agricultural emergencies”) has its origins in the dramatic increase in recent years of natural disasters and civil conflicts that have impaired or threatened food security for millions of people. The Strategic Objective covers FAO activities in four main components: disaster preparedness and early warning; agricultural relief; transition from relief to rehabilitation and development; and strengthening of resilience. FAO has been involved in addressing the needs related to food and agricultural emergencies since the early 1970s, especially in early warning and agricultural relief operations. The latter have increased dramatically in recent years.

ii. The evaluation, covering the period between 1996 and 2001 and conducted by the Evaluation Service with consultants’inputs, included an examination of FAO’s normative work under the Regular Programme (RP) related to this Strategic Objective; an opinion survey of FAO’s Member Nations and external partners and donors; an evaluation of country needs and the performance of field activities in 15 countries, covering all types of disasters; and a review of coordination mechanisms, both within FAO and with partners. The evaluation’s findings and recommendations were examined by an External Peer Review Panel in June 2002 and its comments are attached in Annex 3.1 The management response is given in Annex 4.


iii. The evaluation confirmed the overall relevance and importance of Strategic Objective A3, since natural and human-induced disasters contribute to global food insecurity and poverty, especially in rural areas. The components of the Strategic Objective are also broadly appropriate and useful in that they address all key aspects of an emergency situation, and this holistic approach plays to FAO’s unique comparative advantage of being able to provide technically based support in all these areas (see paragraphs 126-128).

iv. The relative attention that FAO gives to each component of the strategy has varied. Early warning, including needs assessment, has been a priority area for many years, and work in this area is well appreciated by Member Nations and FAO emergency partners in the UN and non-governmental organization (NGO) community. However, the increase in emergency situations, combined with static funding, has stretched resources for this work very thinly.

v. Extra-budgetary funding for agricultural relief operations has increased more than threefold during the period covered (1996 to 2001). On the whole, agricultural relief projects have performed satisfactorily. They have usually provided technically appropriate solutions, and the Emergency Coordinators provided by FAO in major emergencies have been effective and much appreciated by other partners. FAO’s ability to exploit its advantages in this area is constrained by several factors, both internal and external, which impinge on the speedy delivery of inputs. An important factor that FAO needs to address is its administrative and financial procedures to ensure the timely procurement and delivery of relief inputs (see paragraphs 129-131).

vi. Other strategy components have received less attention. Preparedness activities have been few and scattered, although FAO has a potentially strong capacity in many such activities. Efforts are being made to seek ways to address this, particularly through the Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action on Disaster Prevention, Mitigation and Preparedness and Post-Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (PAIA-REHAB) mechanism. There have also not been many activities aimed at promoting an effective transition from relief to rehabilitation and development – a relatively new area for which FAO is developing a suitable approach based on its recent experience (see paragraph 132).

vii. Thus, the priority areas outlined in Strategic Objective A3 now need to be progressively delineated through the Medium-Term Plan (MTP) planning and programming process, with a view to ensuring better exploitation of FAO’s strengths within the holistic approach. PAIA-REHAB provides such a planning and programming mechanism for integrating and mainstreaming all relevant activities in support of this Strategic Objective (see paragraphs 133-134).


viii. These cover the following:

Mainstreaming emergency work

a) Specific emergency-related outputs should be programmed by technical divisions and included in the Programme of Work and Budget, particularly in areas that have received insufficient attention thus far. Functional statements of technical units should reflect their roles in emergencies, with focal points appointed in key units with appropriate terms of reference for emergency-related work (see paragraph 135).

b) For countries that are especially prone to natural disasters, FAO should help to ensure that disaster management is a key consideration in agricultural development activities, including strengthening the capacity of FAO Representatives (FAORs) and regional teams responsible for programme development through training (see paragraph 136).


c) Develop an FAO Strategy and Priority Actions for Preparedness (see paragraph 139).

d) Develop a practical manual for conducting Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions (CFSAMs) (see paragraph 140).

e) In post-conflict situations, or where government institutions have collapsed, provide training in the regular collection and analysis of information (see paragraph 140).

f) Develop a consolidated database of country information to facilitate impact and needs assessment for future disasters (see paragraph 140).

g) Under FIVIMS, greater attention should be given to the disaster and crisis dimension of food insecurity and vulnerability (see paragraph 140).

Agricultural relief

h) Decentralize the procurement of inputs by carrying out a training programme for FAO representation staff where there is, or is likely to be, a considerable volume of operations and, on a case-by-case basis, raise FAOR procurement limits for agricultural relief inputs (see paragraph 142).

i) Appoint Emergency Coordinators when the volume and duration of the operation warrant, and develop a pool of qualified candidates (see paragraph 144).

j) Tie work plans for relief operations to the cropping calendar, with clear designation of responsibilities (see paragraph 144).

k) Establish criteria for beneficiary selection in projects and involve various stakeholders in the selection process, including beneficiaries (see paragraph 146).

l) Explore alternative approaches for input distribution (e.g. seed fairs and vouchers) when possible (see paragraph 148).

m) Provide technical support for interventions and ensure that the inputs distributed do not have management requirements beyond what beneficiaries can provide (see paragraph 150).

n) Relief and rehabilitation components should not be combined in small projects (see paragraph 152).

o) Make more use of evaluation in agricultural relief projects (see paragraph 154).

Oil-for-Food Programme evaluation

p) The Oil-for-Food Programme in Northern Iraq, which was not covered by this evaluation, should be subject to an in-depth evaluation in 2003-2004, focusing on the efficiency and effectiveness of the operation throughout its duration (see paragraph 156).

Assistance in transition from relief to rehabilitation and development

q) For the time being, and until more permanent institutional arrangements are made, the Assistant Director-General of the Technical Cooperation Department (ADG/TC) should designate responsibilities for programming transition activities, after the transition strategy has been prepared (see paragraph 161).

r) A full-time programme manager should be appointed in countries where FAO will provide post-emergency policy and programming assistance (see paragraph 163).

Collaboration with partners

s) FAO should review its emergency-related activities with a view to developing joint programmes at the field level with other UN agencies and NGOs. Negotiations on formal Memoranda of Understanding should be brought to a successful conclusion (see paragraph 165).


t) A Rapid Response Fund (US$1.5 million) should be created, and financed from the accumulated balance on the Direct Operating Cost account for Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division (TCE) projects or (with donor consent) from unspent project funds (see paragraph 168).

u) Similar to the Rapid Response Fund, another fund should be created for establishing rehabilitation advisers during the post-conflict transition phase and financing the programming of transition activities (see paragraph 170).

v) FAO should engage donors in an attempt to raise additional funds for non-relief emergency-related activities, emphasizing its areas of comparative advantage and the benefits of mitigating disasters (see paragraph 172).


Chapter I: Introduction and Background

1. FAO’s Strategic Framework 2000-2015 was approved by the 30th Session of the FAO Conference in November 1999. Formulated after a consultative process among FAO Member Nations, development partners and the FAO Secretariat, it defines a set of strategies that are interdisciplinary and based on partnership. The strategies are intended to give clearer focus to the Organization’s work so as to concentrate on areas in which FAO has comparative advantages. The Strategic Framework for 2000-2015 includes 12 Strategic Objectives, one of which is Strategic Objective A3 “Preparedness for, and effective and sustainable response to, food and agricultural emergencies”.

2. An expressed interest of the FAO Governing Bodies is that FAO’s evaluation work should become more strategically focused. The adoption of the Strategic Framework thus provides an opportunity to review implementation results more broadly in terms of the Organization’s priorities and strategies, to assess the strong and weak areas, and to propose reorientation for the future.

3. The present evaluation is the first such exercise. While this is a welcome opportunity, it should be kept in mind that the evaluation comes very early in the “life” of the Strategic Framework. Much effort went into its creation; FAO is still at a fairly early stage in developing mechanisms to increase interdisciplinarity and partnerships in the implementation of the Strategic Framework. This evaluation comes in the third year of a 15-year strategy. For that reason, it is a formative evaluation rather than a definitive assessment of the Organization’s achievements regarding the Strategic Objective in question. In keeping with past practice for programme evaluations, this one examines three biennia of work. Two of these biennia were prior to adoption of the Strategic Framework.

4. Nevertheless, Strategic Objective A3 was a good choice for the first such exercise. Emergency-related work has been going on in FAO for a long time, and many of the tasks being performed have not been fundamentally altered. At the same time, FAO’s work in agricultural relief has increased dramatically over the past ten years, and it was felt opportune at this time to examine it, along with the whole of the Organization’s work on the disaster cycle, through an in-depth evaluation.


5. Strategic Objective A3 has its origins in the recent dramatic increase of natural disasters and civil conflicts, which have impaired or threatened the food security of millions of people throughout the world, often the most vulnerable. In recent years, the frequency and severity of natural disasters, in particular storms, floods and droughts, have increased, with the number of countries affected by major natural disasters rising from 10 to 18 per year between 1996 and 2001. Even more alarming is the sharp increase in the number of countries affected by civil strife, rising from an average of five per year in the 1980s to 22 in 2000.

6. As well as causing human suffering, these emergencies very often result in the disruption of agricultural and food systems. Linkages between the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, on one hand, and poverty and environmental degradation due to economic, social and population pressures, on the other, are now well recognized. Poor people in densely populated areas of developing countries are those most exposed to natural disasters. Human-induced emergencies often occur in the countryside and, for this reason, tend to have devastating effects on the rural population and agriculture.

7. Food and agriculture emergencies in the aftermath of a disaster take various forms or symptoms, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1: What creates a food and agricultural emergency in the aftermath of disaster?2

Ĝ Local food shortages
Ĝ Loss of agricultural income
Ĝ Loss of assets
Ĝ Loss of means of livelihood
Ĝ Reduced food intake among
    vulnerable people
Ĝ Destruction of physical
Ĝ National food shortages

Ĝ Collapse of marketing and services
Ĝ Degradation of natural resource base
Ĝ Displacement of people from homes and
     sources of livelihood
Ĝ Breakdown of social fabric
Ĝ Increased incidence of undernutrition,
    disease and death among vulnerable

8. These symptoms represent various situations, some occurring in the very early stage of a crisis (degradation of natural resources), and others arising a long way down the destitution line (increased incidence of undernutrition). These various situations call for different types of interventions at different points in time, each of which will have a different impact on the degree of the severity of the crisis. It is recognized that early intervention further up the destitution line reduces the possibility of a situation turning into a tragedy. The broad range of symptoms associated interventions and their impact calls for a holistic approach to crisis management, both in the type of interventions and in their timing.

9. In the past, the major thrust of donor response to food and agricultural emergencies was the provision of food aid to affected populations. However, the detrimental effects of many food aid programmes on local food and agricultural systems, their high cost and often long duration, with resulting dependency on continued food aid, precipitated the development of new approaches. As a result, the supply of agricultural inputs has increasingly been recognized as an important part of humanitarian interventions. The idea is to ensure a rapid transition from food aid to early rehabilitation of local productive capacities.

10. With the increase of natural disasters and human-induced emergencies, humanitarian aid has grown steadily in the past decade. After virtually doubling from 1990 to 1991 to reach US$4.6 billion, it peaked at US$5.7 billion in 1994, to reach 10 percent of total official development assistance (ODA).3 In 1998, after a four-year decline, humanitarian assistance increased again to reach US$4.5 billion.

11. Over the past decade, along with other actors in the United Nations (UN) system and the international aid community, FAO has responded to an increasing number of requests to provide humanitarian assistance to countries affected by emergencies.

12. FAO has been addressing various needs in relation to food and agricultural emergencies since the early 1970s. Agricultural relief operations started in 1973 when the Office for Sahelian Relief Operations (later renamed the Office for Special Relief Operations [OSRO]) was established to provide emergency assistance to member countries affected by the drought that hit the Sudan-Sahelian region of Africa. In 1974, the Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture (GIEWS) was established to monitor global food supply and to provide early warning on serious food shortages. Similarly, as part of the Food Security Assistance Scheme (FSAS), support began in 1976 for the development of regional and national Early Warning and Food Information Systems (EWFIS). GIEWS has grown into a major activity, based largely on Regular Programme (RP) resources, and assistance for national and regional EWFIS has continued, largely under field programmes (FPs). While emergency operations originally focused on the provision of agricultural inputs following natural disasters, the Organization has been increasingly involved in emergencies caused by conflict and civil strife. Today, about two-thirds of FAO’s emergency assistance is in response to conflict situations.4

13. In the past few years, FAO has taken steps to improve the definition of its role in and approach to emergency situations. This was in recognition of the high cost of emergencies in both human and financial terms and the consequent need to pay more attention to measures aimed at preventing or mitigating the impact of disasters. In 1993, the Emergency Coordination Group (ECG) was established to harmonize various FAO activities related to emergencies under both the RP and FPs, as well as to strengthen FAO participation in the UN system-wide Consolidated Appeals Process. In 1996, a joint FAO/Netherlands Review of FAO’s Special Relief Operations5 was carried out to examine FAO’s performance in providing emergency assistance, including an assessment of the comparative strengths of FAO vis-à-vis other humanitarian aid providers. This review was largely positive, pointing to considerable FAO potentials in combining its support to early rehabilitation with relief assistance by drawing on its technical support capacity and its relevant experience in development work. It also proposed several measures for strengthening FAO’s role along these lines, including the development of an overall FAO strategy for emergency assistance.

14. In response, in 1997, FAO issued a brochure on FAO’s emergency activities, together with a Mission Statement on FAO’s Role in Emergencies, and in 1998 it issued a Technical Handbook Series on FAO’s Emergency Activities. These clarified its role and the scope of its activities in various aspects of emergency prevention, preparedness and response. These documents advocate FAO having a role at all stages of a crisis, including preventing or reducing the risk of a hazard becoming a disaster; supporting better preparedness to face an emergency, and hence making relief interventions – including agricultural relief – more effective; and enhancing rehabilitation and recovery. The ability to act in all these areas gives FAO a comparative advantage in managing crises.

15. Subsequently, FAO’s role was again reviewed in light of the commitments set forth in the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action. The latter includes a commitment to prevent and be prepared for natural disasters and human-induced emergencies and to meet transitory and emergency food requirements in ways that encourage rehabilitation/recovery, development and a capacity to satisfy future needs. This was reflected in the Strategic Framework as Strategic Objective A3, which aims “to increase the resilience and capacity of countries and their populations to cope with the impacts of disasters that affect national and household food security and, when disasters do occur, to contribute to emergency operations that foster the transition from relief to recovery of the food and agricultural sectors”.

16. The Strategic Objective includes the following main components:

  1. strengthening of disaster preparedness and the ability to mitigate the impact of emergencies that affect food security and the productive capacities of the rural population;
  2. forecasting and providing early warning of adverse conditions in the food and agricultural sectors and of impending food emergencies, including monitoring plant and animal pests and diseases;
  3. assessing needs and formulating and implementing programmes for agricultural relief and rehabilitation, and formulating policies and investment frameworks favouring the transition from emergency relief to reconstruction and development in food and agriculture; and
  4. strengthening local capacities and coping mechanisms through guiding the choice of agricultural practices, technologies and support services in order to reduce vulnerability and enhance resilience.

17. The Strategic Objective reflects approaches that were developed earlier and that are based on the fundamental beliefs that development cannot be set aside during emergencies and, conversely, that the impact of disasters is intimately linked with the pattern of development. The linking of these various components around a single strategic objective further emphasizes the necessity of having a coherent and comprehensive approach to crisis management. Within this framework, the specific role of FAO is to support measures to be taken well in advance of the emergency and to assist countries by providing, or making available, information for early warning and information that will permit the design of appropriate relief responses, as well as by formulating policies and investments that will restore the livelihoods of people who have been affected by an emergency in a way that will increase their resilience to future disasters.

Clarification on the scope of Strategic Objective A3

18. Many of the terms used to describe emergency responses can have different meanings to different individuals. For the purposes of the evaluation, there was therefore an evident need to clarify exactly what was covered under Strategic Objective A3 and, consequently, what would be examined. This was particularly the case for the terms “prevention” and “preparedness”.

19. In its Technical Handbook Series on FAO’s Emergency Activities, FAO defines prevention as measures designed to prevent natural or socio-political events and processes from resulting in disasters that are characterized by destruction and loss. Strategic Objective A3 does not mention the term “prevention”, although it does refer to mitigation, early warning and capacity building. The scope of Strategic Objective A3 is in line with the proposal for “Strengthening FAO’s Capacity to Prepare for and Respond to Emergencies” submitted to senior management by ECG in 1999. The paper recognizes that disaster prevention activities permeate the entire FAO programme and, therefore, it is difficult to encompass them in a distinct set of activities. Many of the Organization’s development activities address the underlying causes of natural disasters and human-induced emergencies, thereby contributing to their prevention. Although these activities (called proactive prevention by the ECG Ad Hoc Working Group on Prevention and Preparedness) play a crucial role in FAO’s overall work programme on emergencies, their primary objective is usually developmental, and their contribution to emergency prevention is more a logical consequence than an intended result.6

20. Disaster preparedness refers to “measures taken in advance to establish capacities and mechanisms to respond rapidly and effectively to disasters when they do occur, and thereby reduce the intensity or scale of any resultant emergency”.7 This definition is believed to reflect the underlining meaning of the term “preparedness” in Strategic Objective A3, and hence will be used throughout this report.

21. In keeping with the focus on Strategic Objective A3, the present evaluation covers FAO activities on preparedness, early warning, impact and needs assessment, relief and rehabilitation, but excludes all-encompassing “prevention”. However, in considering the extent to which the Organization’s activities promote reduced vulnerability and enhanced resilience, prevention will be an underlying concern (see Chapter II, Section D). The main activities covered are summarized in Table 2.

Table 2: Institutional distribution of emergency-related activities covered by the evaluation


Agricultural relief

Transition from emergency relief to rehabilitation and development

Strengthening resilience to disasters

Early warning and information for better preparedness

Early warning Early reaction

Various activities aimed at improving the efficiency of response


Ĝ  Support to EWFIS


ES technical units and ESD






Ĝ  Seeds security

Ĝ  Disaster assessment

Ĝ  Preparedness plans (comprehensive, subsector and disaster-related)


Other technical units

Ĝ  Bulk of the activities: emergency agricultural input distribution





Other technical divisions, essentially from AG

Field: FAORs
Project staff
Emergency coordinators


Ĝ  Emergency-funded projects aimed at early subsector rehabilitation (seeds, animal health, irrigation, etc.)


Other technical units


Ĝ Activities aimed at strengthening local capacities and coping mechanisms in FAO’s response to an emergency






Other technical units, mostly from AG

Ĝ  Formulating policies and investment frameworks

TCER (new)

Note: The acronyms used in Table 2 are explained in the list of acronyms at the beginning of this document.


22. The evaluation covers both RP and FP activities under Strategic Objective A3. As a formative evaluation, it examines whether FAO’s response is adequate to achieve the desired results in terms of the Strategic Objective, assesses the strengths and weaknesses of activities under the objective’s four components and makes recommendations to improve the design, implementation, results and follow-up of those activities in the future. The evaluation specifically includes reviews of Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP)-funded emergency-related activities: TCP was a major source of funding, and this evaluation is combined with a thematic review of TCP projects on this subject. The evaluation covers emergency-related work that took place during the period 1996 to 2001.

23. The terms of reference (see Annex 2) require the evaluation to assess:


24. The evaluation began with an in-house inventory of emergency-related activities to determine the scope of the work being conducted. The evaluation itself consisted of four main steps:

1. Evaluation of FAO’s normative work in relation to Strategic Objective A3

This part consisted of collecting and reviewing materials produced by FAO and others, and included an examination of relevant literature on the subject by an external consultant. The review of written materials was complemented by interviews with technical officers of key lead units.

2. Survey of Member Nations, implementing partners and donors

A questionnaire was submitted to Member Nations, implementing partners and donors for emergency activities to assess developing countries’ needs and the quality of FAO’s response from the various points of view. The results of the questionnaires appear in Annex 1.

3. Evaluation of country needs and performance of field assistance

Field visits to 15 countries were made in five missions, each with an FAO Evaluation Service (PBEE) staff member and an independent external consultant, to produce an in-depth assessment, including review of individual FAO interventions, most of which were relief and early rehabilitation projects funded by TCP or Trust Fund donors.

The 15 countries were selected with the aim of achieving a balance in the types of disasters covered. Therefore, some countries (those that suffered primarily natural disasters) had relatively few interventions, mostly funded by TCP. Others (with mostly complex emergencies) had a far larger number of interventions, the majority of which were financed by bilateral donors. In each country, the entire gamut of the FAO interventions was reviewed, regardless of the sources of funding. These interventions included agricultural relief projects, crop and food supply assessment missions, other activities related to preparedness and, when applicable, transition to rehabilitation.

Regional coverage was:

The evaluation also drew on other recent (2001) field evaluation experience of FAO emergency activities in Mozambique, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Tajikistan. The evaluation included a study of FAO transitional assistance in the post-relief period in Kosovo, where there was a large programme of emergency assistance.

Evaluation missions met with other UN agencies, donors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in all countries. The choice of interlocutors varied from place to place, but in all cases missions met with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). They also met with the World Food Programme (WFP), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in all countries where these organizations were present. The NGOs that were met were those implementing FAO projects, carrying out similar activities with FAO, or both.

As well as interviewing people involved with the design, implementation and follow-up of project interventions in the selected countries (including intended beneficiaries, on a sample basis), missions also met with implementing partners to obtain their assessments of country needs and of the work carried out in the country.

4. Review of the coordination of activities and the linkages among them

The evaluation examined the ways in which an emergency is recognized and processed within FAO, as well as the coordination mechanisms within FAO and between FAO and other actors in emergency situations.

In keeping with the normal FAO procedure for major evaluation exercises, the evaluation report was submitted to an External Review Panel, which examined it, interviewed key persons within FAO and prepared a report on the evaluation, commenting on its quality as well as its findings and recommendations. The evaluation and the External Review Panel report were reviewed by FAO senior management, and their comments, along with the evaluation and panel report, are submitted to the FAO Programme Committee at its September 2002 session.


C.1 FAO’s Regular Programme work

25. Of the four areas of Strategic Objective A3 (preparedness, early warning, needs assessment/relief and assistance in transition), FAO’s RP work has been most strongly geared towards early warning. In particular, the focus has been on GIEWS, plant pests and animal diseases – particularly in the context of the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES), support to national and regional early warning systems and, in the late 1980s and early 1990s (before the present review period) food security reserves. Some other technical divisions carry out emergency-related work, which is mentioned in the following sections of this report. RP work is coordinated through ECG, which now also provides the coordinating mechanism for the Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action on Disaster Prevention, Mitigation and Preparedness and Post-emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (PAIA-REHAB) (see paragraph 41).

26. Strategic Objective A3 is cross-cutting throughout the Organization because many of the activities that contribute to it also contribute to other strategic objectives. This, together with the changed programme structure of FAO, makes it difficult to state accurately the total amount of RP resources actually devoted to Strategic Objective A3. However, it is possible to calculate some of the major RP elements that have maintained their budgetary identity throughout the review period. These are presented in Table 3.

Table 3: Major RP emergency-related activities – estimated RP resources

(US$ thousands)

Component Allocation1996-1997 Allocation1998-1999 Allocation2000-2001

Emergency Response Operations

3 317

3 618

3 325

Food information and Early Warning systems

6 504

6 244

6 099




1 221


3 21813

2 340

2 334

EMPRES-Plant Pests (Desert Locust)

1 930

1 638

1 665

Migratory Pest Management

1 775

1 770

1 750

National Seed Production and Security14

1 196

2 000

1 930

Nutrition and Household Food Security in Emergencies





17 940

18 490

19 083

27. Table 3 does not cover some other programme activities with emergency components, for which RP resources are difficult to estimate. Chief among these is Advice and Capacity Building in Agricultural Policies. Other Technical Projects (TPs) directed towards Strategic Objective A3 include those on Sustainable Management of Natural Forests and Woodlands (work relating to forest fires) and Sustainable Development of Small-scale Fisheries (safety at sea).

28. Of the major activities listed in Table 3, Food Information and Early Warning Systems and FIVIMS are largely related to early warning, EMPRES deals with both early warning and preparedness, and Migratory Pest Management deals with preparedness and emergency response. The last two programmes are related to preparedness, and Emergency Response Operations refer to the activities of the Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division (TCE).

29. While the total volume of RP resources for these activities shows an increase of some 6 percent over the review period, most of this is accounted for by new activities initiated during the period (some elements under FIVIMS and the nutrition work) rather than increases in traditional activities; among these latter, only work on seeds shows an increase over the review period. RP resources declined for most other activities. This is in sharp contrast to the increasing resources for relief and early rehabilitation activities in the FP and is explained by the fact that RP resources have contracted in real terms, with many priorities competing for shrinking resources. Thus, although emergency work has become an organizational priority, the relative importance given to it has varied among individual technical units. The RP resources estimated in Table 3 account for some 3 percent of the total RP budget for 2000-2001.

30. In terms of future programming, in preparing the Medium-Term Plan (MTP) for 2002-2007, it was estimated that 7 percent of FAO’s resources would be devoted to Strategic Objective A3 over the period of the MTP.

C.2 FAO’s Field Programme

31. The shape of FAO’s FP (including TCP) has been dramatically altered in recent years, with a rapid increase in emergency activities’ share of the total delivery under the FP (from 10 percent in 1996-1997 to some 50 percent in 2000-2001). Nearly all of this has been for relief and early rehabilitation activities operated by TCE.

32. The largest single emergency-related field operation is the Oil-for-Food Programme in Iraq, which began in 1997. FAO monitors and reports on the distribution to beneficiaries of agricultural inputs procured by the Government of Iraq in 15 central and southern Governorates and, in the case of certain items considered to be of potential dual use (e.g. agricultural helicopter spare parts), the Organization is responsible for monitoring their receipt, storage and end-use. In three northern Governorates, FAO fully implements the agricultural programme, including procurement, receipt and storage, distribution and monitoring. Cumulative allocations under the Oil-for-Food Programme (Northern Iraq) increased from US$46 million in 1997, to US$245 million in the biennium 1998-1999 and to US$687 million in 2000-2001. Because the programme is so atypical of FAO emergency operations, including its size, it was decided to exclude it from the present evaluation, which is intended to focus more on strategic issues.

33. Trust Fund donors have significantly increased their contributions to emergency relief and early rehabilitation activities, from US$31.5 million in 1996-1997, to US$41 million in 1998-1999 and US$103.8 million in 2000-2001. TCP funding for emergency projects also increased, from US$22.3 million in the 1996-1997 biennium, to US$28.9 million in 1998-1999 and US$26.8 million in 2000-2001. On average, emergency projects were considerably larger than non-emergency TCPs. For example, in 1998-1999, emergency TCPs represented 24.5 percent (106 of the 432 projects approved) but 32.0 percent of total allocations. In 2000-2001, emergency TCPs accounted for 19.4 percent of the total (90 out of 463) and 27.3 percent of allocations.

34. During the review period of 1996 to 2001, the countries (excluding Iraq) that received the most agricultural relief and early rehabilitation assistance were:

1. Kosovo US$39 290 651
2. Burundi US$16 837 880
3. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea US$14 613 420
4. Afghanistan US$14 478 656
5. Mozambique US$12 898 349
6. Bosnia and Herzegovina US$11 996 563
7. Democratic Republic of the Congo US$11 686 412
8. Rwanda US$9 837 812
9. The Sudan US$9 372 263
10. Somalia US$9 195 532

35. In addition to the emergency projects, some US$10.3 million of emergency- related non-relief and early rehabilitation projects was approved in the review period. Most of this assistance was for the development of early warning systems in Africa.

C.3 Institutional mechanisms for coordination

C.3.1 Internal coordination

36. Since the vast bulk of FAO’s emergency-related activity is in relief and early rehabilitation, most of the work for Strategic Objective A3 is under the responsibility of TCE. However, other units in the Organization are also involved in the implementation of Strategic Objective A3, and the most important aspects of that work are mentioned in Chapter II: Assessment of implementation results. In FAO, two mechanisms have been created for achieving institutional coordination in emergency-related work.

37. One of these, ECG, has the task of ensuring that FAO responds to particular country emergency situations in a coordinated manner. Since its creation, ECG’s mandate has been changed twice. In 1996, its composition and terms of reference were amended to reflect the restructuring of FAO, which had led to the reallocation of functions related to emergency assistance. The ECG mandate was again revisited in August 1999 following the restructuring of UN inter-agency humanitarian mechanisms, which was intended to improve the coherence of UN responses to emergencies, including greater attention to actions to prevent or mitigate the effects of disasters. FAO felt particularly well placed in meeting these new challenges, and ECG’s terms of reference were expanded, along with its membership, to ensure the participation of all relevant units within the Organization. ECG was also to ensure liaison with the field, as well as to give high visibility to FAO’s emergency-related work in international fora. The chairperson was changed several times, and the group is now chaired by the Assistant Director-General of the Technical Cooperation Department (ADG/TC), reflecting the high profile given to ECG within the Organization.

38. ECG fosters in-house debate on FAO’s role in emergencies. Most of the documents cited in Section A Strategic Objective A3: origin and concepts were produced under its aegis. The most relevant paper prepared under ECG coordination was Strengthening FAO’s capacity to prepare for and respond to emergencies. This paper presents a review of current activities, a summary of major issues and areas for improvement relating to the internal management and coordination of FAO’s work on emergencies, the conduct of FAO’s normative and operational activities at all stages of the emergency sequence, and measures to enhance FAO’s response capacity, including at the country level. The proposals advanced in the paper, which were conceived within the context of the Medium-Term Plan 2002-2007, were used in the preparation of proposals for the Programme of Work and Budget 2002-2003. Many of the recommendations from that document are considered in the present evaluation.

39. However, in terms of enhancing a coordinated response by the Organization to major emergencies, ECG has been successful in only a few cases. Kosovo is an example in which it succeeded in mobilizing staff from various technical divisions for coordinated actions in the field (e.g. food security assessment missions). Overall, ECG has not been able to ensure effective collaboration between technical divisions and the operational division (TCE) in FAO’s emergency responses.

40. ECG is recognized as a forum for information exchange. Periodic information notes are prepared by the ECG Secretariat, and e-mail networks have been created to enhance the exchange of information related to ECG and PAIA-REHAB (see following paragraph).

41. The other mechanism is of more recent origin, and dates from since the MTP 2002-2007 was adopted. In order to enhance multidisciplinary approaches to the implementation of the Organization’s strategic objectives, FAO developed 16 Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action (PAIA) which are intended to coordinate RP activities. One of these, Disaster Prevention, Mitigation and Preparedness and Post-Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (PAIA-REHAB), is aimed at Strategic Objective A3. PAIA-REHAB is still in the formative stage and it is premature to make any judgement about its effectiveness as a coordinating mechanism. However, the results of a recent consultancy, which was carried out within the framework of PAIA15 in order to develop a work plan, are promising. The paper and the sound recommendations that it contains are the results of an intensive consultative process in the house, involving all the units concerned, and lay the ground for establishing priority areas and concrete activities for inter-disciplinary collaboration. So far, PAIA is organized in five thematic working groups,16 each reporting to the chair of ECG. The present evaluation team approves of the consultancy report’s proposals to reorganize the working group by planned outputs, rather than by cross-cutting themes, and to establish a PAIA-REHAB coordination group with seven to eight representatives from those divisions most heavily involved in delivering the planned outputs. The group would report to the chair of ECG and would have delegated responsibility for the limited funds that have been allocated to PAIA-REHAB.

C.3.2 External coordination

42. The main organization with which FAO cooperates in responding to emergencies is OCHA, which has offices in New York dealing with the policy and diplomatic aspects of emergencies, and in Geneva, from which operational support is coordinated. FAO contributes to OCHA objectives in several ways at both the country and the headquarters levels and through the FAO Liaison Offices in New York and Geneva. FAO participates in the Inter-agency Standing Committee and its Working Group (IASC-WG), in OCHA-led missions and Inter-agency Consolidated Appeals – where FAO has the overall responsibility for the crop, livestock and other food security components – and (together with WFP) in emergency food aid needs assessment. FAO also carries out agricultural relief and rehabilitation needs assessments and prepares project profiles in this area. The Director of TCE represents FAO at IASC-WG, and TCE coordinates the preparation of FAO’s contribution to UN Inter-agency Consolidated Appeals for submission to OCHA. In the past few years, FAO has actively contributed to discussions on the role of the United Nations Consolidated Appeals Process (UNCAP) as a strategic planning and programming tool. FAO has been a member of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force for Disaster Reduction (IATF) since the formal launch of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) in early 2001. FAO has also actively participated in and contributed to the activities of the four working groups established as the operational mechanism of IATF.

43. WFP is FAO’s main partner in many emergency-related activities, in particular crop and food supply assessments, gathering of information on vulnerability, and some aspects of agricultural relief. Other important FAO partners in emergencies include UNHCR, UNDP, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and, in particular, the Inter-agency Secretariat for Disaster Reduction within the United Nations International Programme for Disaster Reduction. Significant non-UN partners include the World Bank, the regional development banks and the International Red Cross Movement. NGOs are key partners in the field, in particular for the implementation of agricultural relief projects in countries where local government structures are weak. FAO has also been an active member of the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP), a network comprising UN agencies, bilateral donors and NGOs.

44. UNHCR, UNDP, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank have been funding short-term rehabilitation projects for FAO implementation. However, in line with the decline of the Organization’s overall Field Programme, funding from UNDP has decreased and World Bank and IFAD-funded projects have been few.

45. There is a need for external collaboration to be strengthened further, especially at the field level and in post-emergency situations. Memoranda of Understanding with WFP and UNHCR have been discussed with those organizations, but have not been concluded. Several technical meetings have been organized between FAO and the International Committee of the Red Cross to explore the areas and modalities of cooperation in emergency situations between the two organizations. These discussions are continuing.


1 Expert Panel’s Members are: Arenas, Antonio (El Salvador), Director of National System for Territorial Studies; Aysan, Yasemin (Turkey), Acting Chief UNDP/Disaster Reduction and Recovery Programme, Geneva; Grunewald, François (France), Director of the French NGO “Urgence Réhabilitation Développement”; Holt, Julius (UK), Founder-partner of the Food Economy Group Consultant SCF-UK; Jackson, Robin (USA), Policy Adviser, WFP, Rome; and Maalim, Mahboub (Kenya), Coordinator of the Kenya Drought Emergency Response, Office of the President, Nairobi.

2 FAO Technical Handbook Series, 1998.

3 Inter-agency Standing Committee Working Group (IASC-WG) 23rd Meeting – Agenda Item 3, 5 April 2000, “Humanitarian aid flow and implications for positive prospects and thrust for the CAP”. (Figures are in real terms, taking into account inflation and exchange rates.)

4 Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division (TCE) estimates.

5 Programme Evaluation Report 1996-1997.

6 FAO. 1999. Strengthening FAO’s capacity to prepare for and respond to emergencies. Rome.

7 FAO Technical Handbook Series, 1998.

8 Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand, Viet Nam.

9 Burundi, Eritrea, Rwanda, Sierra Leone.

10 Georgia, Kazakhstan, Mauritania.

11 Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua.

12 The Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System (FIVIMS) is not fully related to Strategic Objective A3 insofar as it focuses on the underlying causes of structural vulnerability to food insecurity and pays limited attention to disaster aspects. The allocation figures represent one-third of the totals for each biennium.

13 This figure includes all the work on transboundary animal diseases carried out in 1996-1997.

14 Called Improved On-farm Seed Production and Seed Security in 1996-97.

15 Draft paper prepared by S. Lawry-White, Vine Management Consulting, March 2002.

16 These are: preparedness; manuals and guidelines; training policy advice and extension; information; and support from technical divisions during relief and rehabilitation.


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