The eradication of rinderpest, or cattle plague, has long been a priority for FAO and the European Union.
Since ancient times, rinderpest was the cause of massive cattle losses, economic ruin and hunger, primarily in Asia and Europe, and more recently, in Africa.
A declaration of global freedom from rinderpest is expected in mid-2011, making rinderpest the first animal disease to be eradicated globally thanks to human efforts, and only the second disease ever, after smallpox.
FAO’s Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme, a key element within the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES), was formed in 1994 as an international coordination mechanism to promote the global eradication of rinderpest and verification of freedom from the disease, while providing technical guidance to achieve these goals.
GREP has worked in close association with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), other partners like the International Atomic Energy Agency, regional institutions, governments, non-governmental organizations and communities worldwide.
Since the late 1960’s, the European Union has contributed close to Euro 400 million to national and regional projects focused directly on, or incorporating, rinderpest control, including approximately Euro 340 million in grants by the European Commission.
The EU has recently granted FAO Euro 2 700 000 to develop and promote the post-eradication surveillance and contingency plans.