IV. Summary Assessment


39. Despite funding constraints, important results have been achieved both institutionally and operationally as well as technically.

40. At the institutional level, one important outcome for EMPRES-WR is the establishment of CLPRO, which will create a unified institutional structure for the preventive control of DL in the Western Region. The Maghreb countries have their own DLUs which are, in general, adequately funded and operational. However, the EMPRES-WR programme as envisaged in the planning documents has not yet become operational.

41. At the operational level, the Mauritanian DLU has developed into a very effective and efficient organization that can be regarded as a "best practice" model. The DLU carries out regular comprehensive ground surveys and provides information from those surveys to FAO (DLIS) and CLCPANO in a timely manner, and to other interested stakeholders via e-mail. The DLU is very well organized and records all of its survey and control information on databases (RAMSES and LOCDAT). The Mauritanian Government provides substantial funding to cover salaries, the unit's overhead costs and some operational costs. FAO is currently providing about 70 percent of the operational costs for surveys.

42. At the technical level, the programme focused on improving pesticide application technology and other aspects of control operations. As a result, the programme has made important contributions to developing and introducing safer, more cost-effective and environment-friendly procedures for DL control operations.


Coordination and Harmonization

43. Regarding regional collaboration, important advances have been made in terms of collaboration between EMPRES-CR and CRC, which now share a joint work plan and regularly co-finance and co-organize training events and other DL-related activities. CRC is also now seen as being the appropriate body to ensure the continuity of EMPRES-CR activities after the programme has terminated. To this end, countries in the Central Region that are not yet members of CRC are being encouraged to join: in July 2001, Djibouti stated that it would apply for membership, and the issue is under active consideration in Ethiopia. Progress has also been made in the organization of joint surveys: in Egypt and the Sudan joint border surveys have taken place, and an in-country survey has been carried out, with the participation of DL officers from other countries.

44. EMPRES-CR also has the task of establishing a suitable system for encouraging and monitoring communications among the EMPRES-CR countries and with DLIS. The facilitation of information exchange started early in the programme with the establishment of a communications network for telephone, fax and e-mail. Communication by e-mail is now possible from all countries.

Early Warning

45. The cornerstone of any DL preventive strategy must be efficient and timely survey operations, including the rapid analysis of intelligence received from those surveys. EMPRES-CR took this principle as its starting point, and in Phase I developed the concept of CFPs, which synthesize both early warning and early control elements. The CFPs embody EMPRES's general principle of using a systematic approach to strengthen national early warning and control capacities in its member countries.

46. In 1998 and 1999, CFPs were established in Eritrea, Yemen and the Sudan, but only the Sudan has been able to follow through on its CFP. Perhaps owing to the difficulties encountered, CFPs no longer seem to be regarded as the vehicle of choice for transmitting EMPRES principles - the programme implementation document for Phase II refers to CFPs only twice in passing, and they are not mentioned at all in either the results areas or the actual work plan.

47. The results regarding surveying expected from phase II were spelled out in the revised programme document as follows: "survey operations are significantly improved in terms of quality and efficiency". Most of the available records from which to assess survey operations according to these two criteria come from EMPRES-CR member countries and DLIS. In this context, it is interesting to note that the actual frequency of field surveys in many countries differs from the scheduled frequency. For example, during the seven years from 1994 to 2000, Djibouti made a total of only five surveys, while Oman carried out 20. The highest number of surveys was made in the Sudan, followed by Egypt, Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

48. Apart from the simple issue of survey numbers, other important criteria are the timeliness and completeness of reporting to DLIS. In general, the surveys conducted in the EMPRES Central Region show some degree of improvement - the average percentages of reports received on time were 61 percent in 1996 and 74 percent in 2000, and the percentage of complete reports increased from 16 percent in 1996 to 47 percent in 2000. However, the figures for the latter criterion are far from being satisfactory, and indicate an area in which further progress must be made.

49. It appears that the key to better survey results rests with individual DLUs rather than with EMPRES-CR - most PPDs seem to operate without a national survey plan (with the exception of the Sudan, where such a plan was developed in the context of the CFP) and, thus, survey operations appear to be based more on ad hoc decisions than rational grounds. Regarding technical skills, most survey staff in EMPRES-CR member countries have participated in at least one training course, and EMPRES-CR has generally been able to provide the necessary survey material, including GPS and field equipment, where needed. Likewise, EMPRES-CR has initiated trials of improved technologies and methodologies, such as the registration of GPS data on palm-held computers and the HF radio transmission of survey data from the field to DLU headquarters.

50. The uncertain future of the RAMSES software, which was developed by NRI and introduced in the region with the collaboration of EMPRES-CR, is a cause for concern, and recent retrenchments at NRI are affecting RAMSES experts. Several planned training programmes at NRI have had to be cancelled and the future is uncertain.

51. The proposal that DLUs use satellite images to identify zones of green vegetation in traditional breeding areas has not been operationally feasible. This appears to be related to the reliability of such images in detecting areas of very low-density (< 10 percent) green vegetation. AGPP is considering the inclusion of a full-time remote sensing research position, to be located within DLIS, should the European Union (EU) indicate its willingness, in principle, to fund EMPRES-WR. Pending such arrangements, short-term consultancy assistance is being used to help develop the technology.

Early Reaction/Control

52. Much of the EMPRES-CR work plan is focused on the improvement of control campaigns, in particular through training on application techniques, impact assessment, new methodologies and safety and environmental aspects.

53. EMPRES-CR identified contingency planning as a vital component of the prevention of DL plagues. DLUs in individual member countries not only need to prepare plans that cover the full range of scenarios, from recession to plague situations, but also need to ensure that arrangements for the implementation of these plans are in place and regularly reviewed. However, the Sudan was the only country to develop contingency plans for the summer and winter breeding seasons of 2001. Contingency planning is complex, and careful preparation is required to enable counterpart institutions to prepare themselves to cope with an unlikely, but possible, scenario with at least some likelihood of success. One of the aspects to be dealt with is the ability to prepare orderly plans for a specific locust situation and to put the necessary requirements in place. The building of this basic expertise is one of the objectives of the planned seminar on campaign management and planning. As a second step, a regional contingency planning seminar is under preparation for presentation in 2002; a consultant has been selected and a tentative programme outline developed. In some EMPRES-CR countries, contingency plans have already been drafted and guidelines are under preparation.

Research/Improved Strategies

54. The revised EMPRES-CR programme document envisaged contributing to "improvements in the desert locust emergency prevention strategy through evaluating the effectiveness, efficiency and environmental soundness of current approaches and new technologies. The programme will introduce a procedure for analysing and evaluating current survey/control methods and procedures, establishing research priorities and recommending the adoption of modified strategies. Among others, this will include economic studies as well as modelling of the effects of various types of control interventions as components for improved strategies."

55. The development of improved control strategies for DL can be undertaken at two different, but complementary, levels:

    1. The first level is the testing and development of new control techniques such as the use of biopesticides or barrier spraying techniques. In order to undertake this testing it is a prerequisite that DL populations are present.
    2. The second level is more strategic and involves, for example, the use of models to simulate campaigns and analyse the results of applying different control strategies

56. In recent years, significant gregarious populations have not been present in the Central Region and, as a result, little progress has been made in the testing of new control techniques. A draft discussion paper on preventive control has recently been prepared, and provides useful baseline information. Planning of a workshop on campaign simulation in early 2002 is well advanced.

57. EMPRES-CR has also been mandated to collect data that are relevant to a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the economic and social factors of DL control. Such an analysis would, in turn, provide guidance to affected countries, donors and concerned organizations for the design of cost-effective DL management systems.

58. The programme document for Phase II aimed at "continuing relevant economic analyses and at establishing a process of analysis and evaluation which looks at new data becoming available and at new experience gained on the different methods and procedures related to strategies". The same document stated that "a mechanism was needed ... for examining how [economic analyses] can contribute to improved strategies, and for providing feedback in terms of expert advice and recommendations". The meeting on DL economics that was organized by FAO in 2000 concluded that more detailed socio-economic analyses and other studies were needed.

59. The results obtained by the proposed additional studies are not immediately apparent, as the bulk of the research is done by EMPRES collaborators, without much guidance or coordination from EMPRES-CR or FAO management. This has led to a situation in which economic studies undertaken during the first phase of EMPRES-CR have cast doubts on the economic benefits of DL survey and control, while other studies that would reflect the possibly wider and different concerns of decision-makers and farmers in DL-affected countries have not yet been undertaken, or at least have not been publicized.

60. In terms of supporting the development of environmentally safer control methods, EMPRES-CR and the Mauritanian trust fund project have initiated activities for the field testing of biopesticides such as metarhizium, IGRs and the semio-chemical phenylacetonitrile, as well as tests aimed at improving spray effectiveness and thereby decreasing the quantities of chemicals used. However, the absence of relevant DL populations has made it impossible to assess new methods on a large scale under field conditions.


61. Although training is not one of the original EMPRES thrusts (and is not an objective per se), it has become the mainstay of EMPRES-CR activities in Phase II. In the course of programme implementation, it became obvious that it is more difficult to implement the conceptual aspects of training than it is to implement a training course itself. EMPRES-CR recognized early on the importance of pedagogical concepts in training activities, and the need for a conceptual framework. However, despite this attitude, the programme has been less successful in introducing a more systematic approach to training. One apparent reason is the slow progress made with CFPs (of which the assessment of training needs is a key element), as well as the funding constraints at NRI, which have affected work on the training manual.

62. In order to ensure the coordination and compatibility of DL operations, ELOs and FAO staff are developing training standards, including a definition of the level of knowledge and the technical skills that locust officers should have reached after a given training course. These standards will be harmonized among EMPRES-CR, CRC and DLCO-EA. To complement the harmonization of training efforts, a comprehensive training manual covering improved survey procedures, population assessment, control operations and training organization is expected to be ready in 2002, and will serve training-of-trainers courses as well as national and local training events. Here, again, work has been delayed owing to questions of cost-sharing between NRI and EMPRES-CR.


63. A brief questionnaire survey of EMPRES countries in the Central and Western Regions, collaborators and donors was carried out to gauge their opinions on EMPRES and their proposals for future priorities.

64. Of the 17 developing member countries contacted, 11 responded, as did one of the two regional DL organizations contacted and four of the ten donors/collaborators.

65. The results of the questionnaire survey indicate a generally positive view of EMPRES. However, it is difficult to draw overall conclusions owing to the different circumstances of the respondents. The main positive features perceived by EMPRES-CR countries were skills enhancement through training and the provision of expertise; the upgrading of information exchange mechanisms and improved coordination among DLUs were also well appreciated. The main weaknesses were seen to be that EMPRES-CR cannot respond to all requests for equipment items (although the support received for communications and survey equipment was generally rated as positive), that more training is needed in certain areas and that research still has to be initiated or has not yet yielded sufficient results.

66. Responses from EMPRES-WR countries (where the EMPRES programme as such is not yet operational) reflect the varying operational capacities of the individual DLUs. Sahelian countries usually pointed out that they do not possess the means to mount full survey and control campaigns, and that they look forward to the initiation of the EMPRES-WR programme, also in terms of improving regional collaboration and information flow.

67. Donors and collaborators appreciate EMPRES as a framework within which activities can be coordinated and that provides them with access to DLUs in locust-affected countries. Some responses point to difficulties experienced with FAO's administrative procedures, and some also suggest that the information flow for EMPRES activities could be intensified. In two instances, EMPRES was seen as not proactive enough in presenting the advantages of preventive DL management.

V. Conclusions and Recommendations1


68. EMPRES-CR has made overall progress in attaining the objectives for Phase II and, in particular, has significantly advanced the expertise of DL staff through a series of training courses. However, for various reasons, the degree of progress has varied among countries. On the one hand, the excellent progress made in the Sudan demonstrates the effectiveness of the EMPRES approach and the improvements that are likely to accrue if EMPRES is vigorously supported at the national level. On the other hand, where progress has been much slower, an important factor has often been the impact of external risk factors such as regional conflict and unexpected outbreaks of Rift Valley fever. In the case of Yemen, delays were also due to internal factors, including discrepancies between budget allocations and actual disbursements as well as the devolution of administrative/political authority to local government.

69. Ultimately, the longer-term future of EMPRES-CR and the extension of the programme to Phase III will depend on making satisfactory progress towards attaining the objectives of Phase II and securing donor funding. EMPRES-CR must ensure that performance indicators are focused towards outputs, in order to allow quantitative measurement, wherever possible.

70. The future of EMPRES-WR appears to be more problematic. To date, no donor has given a firm financial commitment to the programme. The reasons for this are unclear. Countries in the Eastern Region (Afghanistan, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan) have participated in some EMPRES activities in the Western and Central Regions. In addition, FAO (AGPP) is planning to investigate whether there may be donor support for some EMPRES activities in the region, mainly those related to modernized survey and control and training.


71. The management of EMPRES-CR is complex: staff are located at various locations in the region, communications are sometimes difficult and there is the added dimension of budget complexity, all of which present a challenge for efficient programme management and coordination.

72. There have been considerable improvements in the overall management and administration of the programme in the Central Region - an area of particular concern to the 1999 evaluation mission. Signs of this are the active involvement of EMPRES-CR personnel and ELOs in the development of Phase II, improved internal communications between EMPRES-CR and FAO management, a structured approach to work planning and reporting, and an overall improvement in monitoring of, and reporting on, performance. Understanding between EMPRES-CR and CRC has also improved significantly as evidenced by the increasing number of jointly funded activities.

73. The greater involvement and participation of EMPRES-CR staff in programme decision-making has also contributed to more effective and efficient management. However, there appear to be instances in which decision-making on important management issues has not been optimal. Examples of management responses that seem to have been less than optimal include the long delay (18 months) in appointing the Acting Coordinator as Programme Coordinator and the delay in responding to issues relating to the programme's lack of progress in Yemen.

74. FAO and EMPRES-CR should monitor progress carefully in countries where delays have occurred. If delays in progress continue, they should be brought to the attention of higher-level FAO management and the EMPRES-CR Consultative Committee, and solutions should be sought with the concerned authorities.

75. It appears that AGPP technical inputs are limited in terms of frequency, duration and technical advice. This is the result of both the number of non-EMPRES activities that AGPP staff have to attend to and staffing/funding constraints, which make it impossible to provide the necessary expertise for intensive technical monitoring and backstopping.

76. FAO should consider revising existing terms of reference and establishing an additional technical position to assist in the implementation of EMPRES-CR activities. In the event of EMPRES-WR becoming operational, the Plant Production and Protection Division (AGP) should review whether AGPP's staffing resources are sufficient to manage and administer two major regional field projects effectively while continuing with other routine activities. In the same context, FAO should consider using external experts to assist with the technical monitoring of EMPRES field activities.


77. There are two issues of concern relating to EMPRES funding: the first is the lack of donor response to EMPRES-WR funding, and the second relates to bilateral activities implemented under the umbrella of EMPRES.

78. Regarding the former, it appears that only the EU and France have shown interest in contributing to EMPRES-WR. (The trust fund project that Norway has been supporting since 1996 is seen as a contribution to EMPRES-WR, but its future beyond 2002 is uncertain. The United States supports two small projects, which include assistance to countries in the Western Region.) The possible reasons for donors' lack of response to EMPRES-WR have not been ascertained.

79. Regarding the latter concern, a number of bilateral activities, mainly related to research, are being implemented under EMPRES-CR. (Examples include environmental research in the Sudan and economic studies by the universities of Gothenburg and Hannover.) In some cases, the bilateral activities being undertaken are not necessarily core activities in terms of EMPRES. It did not appear to the mission that there had been sufficient dialogue within FAO on the merits of such activities and on whether the original proposals can be modified to align better with EMPRES-CR activities.

80. FAO should engage in dialogue with donors to clarify the possible reasons for their apparent reluctance to fund EMPRES-WR activities. FAO and EMPRES-CR should also undertake more detailed appraisals of proposed bilateral research activities to be implemented under EMPRES-CR and, where required, liaise with the bilateral agencies concerned to ensure that these activities align with core EMPRES-CR objectives.


81. Most DLUs are parts of wider PPDs and are also involved in other than DL activities. The recent absence of significant DL populations has reinforced this situation and DLUs, as well as some donors/collaborators, would appreciate a widening of the EMPRES coverage to include other significant plant pests.

82. The DL-affected countries of Southwest Asia (Afghanistan, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan) have expressed interest in becoming more involved in EMPRES activities, and the September 2000 meeting of the Southwest Asia Commission indicated that it plans to undertake several activities that are similar in many ways to EMPRES activities. FAO (AGPP) is also investigating possible donor support for work in the region.

83. FAO should consider widening the mandate of EMPRES-DL to include other relevant plant pests and additional locust-affected regions.


84. An important aspect of EMPRES's work is its contribution to the discussion of economic and social justifications for preventive DL control strategies, as socio-economic criteria are essential for decision-makers in developing countries and donor agencies alike. While decision-makers in the locust-affected countries visited by the mission seem to favour a preventive approach (i.e. a continuation of the present control strategies, albeit with more refinement and focus), some economic studies from the past decade tend to discard the preventive control approach as too costly and not sufficiently environmentally friendly. Instead, alternative approaches are favoured, such as insurance and/or relief payment and compensation schemes, which are at present purely academic proposals and have not been tested in any DL-affected country. At the same time, the economic studies reviewed by the mission reveal a lack of relevant data to assess accurately the actual costs and benefits of campaigns, and there are contradictions among them.

85. To date, no generally accepted conclusions have been reached: the studies commissioned or inspired by EMPRES have not been able to bridge the gap between DL practitioners and decision-makers in DL-affected countries, on the one hand, and academic economists, on the other. The former refer to the devastating social and political consequences of a DL plague and the untested character of alternative intervention schemes, while the latter emphasize the low returns (especially in countries with low-value production) vis-à-vis conventional control strategies.

86. In this regard, it is interesting to note that the studies and reviews that appear in the context of EMPRES do not refer to the Australian Plague Locust Commission (APLC), which is reported to operate on a benefit-cost ratio of between 23:1 and 29:1. It also seems that, despite the declared high government priority accorded to DL control, the economic studies undertaken within the framework of EMPRES have never been discussed with economists or planning officers from ministries of agriculture, planning or finance. This failure to consult and achieve consensus gives rise to concerns that some donor decisions will be influenced negatively if economic benefits appear doubtful, even if alternative approaches remain untested and a decision to take no preventive action at all could ultimately cost donors dearly.

87. Research should be initiated on the economic benefits of preventive DL control, and on the political and social implications of DL outbreaks and possible control or remediation measures.


88. CFPs were introduced in Phase I of EMPRES. The CFP exercise analyses the main features of a country's DL management system and develops plans and strategies for future action. CFPs are seen as an important analytical tool for improving survey and control procedures and also as a mechanism for building ownership within EMPRES. Despite the importance that was attached to them in Phase I, there is virtually no mention of CFPs in the Phase II programme implementation document or work plan. It would appear that the development of CFPs was stalled in Eritrea, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The Sudan has prepared and is implementing its CFP, while Ethiopia has undertaken work on elements of the CFP. Yemen has recently indicated it will reactivate its CFP.

89. The development of CFPs is regarded as an important tool and EMPRES-CR should renew efforts to assist countries to develop and implement their CFPs.


90. Overall, there has been significant progress in several research areas. The FAO/Norway trust fund project based in Mauritania under the EMPRES-WR umbrella has contributed useful operational research results, which were evidenced by a recent independent evaluation. The synergy between this project and the Mauritania DLU has been highly productive.

91. Under EMPRES-CR, the research grant scheme is proving increasingly successful in attracting proposals from institutions within the region. Although it is too early to assess the results of such research, the scheme is creating awareness and developing research expertise in the region. The longer-term sustainability of the scheme could become an issue, as research proposals have a time frame beyond the current Phase II of EMPRES-CR. The prospect for funding of the scheme in the longer term is likely to rest with CRC.

92. A calm DL situation has meant that there have been no gregarious populations present in the region and, consequently, opportunities for operational research in such areas as pesticide application trials and improved survey methodologies has not been realized. In the event that significant DL populations develop, there is a high risk that numerous competing, and possibly conflicting, pressures to test various pesticides and to undertake various ecological studies will be placed on EMPRES-CR and national DLUs.

93. EMPRES-CR, CRC and FAO should give consideration to the longer-term sustainability of the research grant scheme. FAO and EMPRES-CR should also develop research contingency plans and establish priorities to facilitate field research in the event of an outbreak of DL populations in the Central and Western Regions. The development of joint research activities and joint training programmes between EMPRES-WR and EMPRES-CR should be considered in order to ensure the efficient use of resources, the standardization of approaches and a more general exchange of ideas.


94. The overall training strategy, aimed at developing master trainers who are qualified to undertake national training courses, continues to progress well. EMPRES-CR is aware of the need to consolidate the gains made to date and to develop improved monitoring and evaluation systems to assess the impact of training. The focus of training in phase II is oriented more towards the support of national training. This will assist longer-term sustainability in terms of both human resources and finances. The establishment of a graduate diploma course at Khartoum University is a welcome development, which should contribute to the development of expertise in DL management in the region in future years.

95. It is borne out by questionnaire replies and from the interviews conducted by the mission that the actual training given by EMPRES has assisted DLUs to improve their capacity and that, in a number of key countries, there is a strong interest to start work on a training concept.


96. The recent retrenchment of NRI staff involved with the RAMSES database has potential implications for EMPRES. While it is anticipated that FAO could employ the former NRI staff directly as consultants to undertake training on RAMSES, issues regarding NRI's ongoing technical support for the development of RAMSES are unresolved at present. There seems little doubt that additional modules for RAMSES will be required, such as the building of an interface for the DLU in Mauritania in order to allow LOCDAT data to be used in RAMSES. Similarly, it is likely that there will be a demand to develop a management module for the control of campaign information.

97. Once NRI's position regarding future technical support is clear, it may be useful for EMPRES management to initiate an issues paper which would serve as the basis for discussions to define the future use of RAMSES, including the possible development of additional modules. If possible, the issues paper should also include indicative costings.


98. There is uncertainty regarding the reliability of satellite imagery to identify areas of green vegetation in traditional DL breeding areas for ground or aerial survey. The technical issue seems to revolve around the ability to detect areas of low-density green vegetation with a reasonable degree of confidence. Given that many of the traditional DL breeding areas are characterized by low-density vegetation, the issue becomes extremely important. There is a lack of ground-truthing information against which the limitations of satellite images can be assessed.

99. FAO should arrange for additional technical inputs to be provided to DLIS such that satellite images can be provided to some countries and ground-truthing surveys carried out. The results should be analysed and written up as a guide to the advantages and limitations of using satellite images as a guide to planning locust surveys.


100. The AGPP (DLIS) Web site provides a large amount of information on EMPRES activities, including various reports and upcoming activities. In addition, the site provides useful Web links to other organizations involved in locust control and/or research. The FAO/Norway project is also expected to have its own Web site operational shortly.

101. There is further scope to involve the countries of the Eastern Region in such EMPRES activities as training and access to research information, especially through the creation of additional EMPRES Web sites as envisaged by the FAO/Norway project.


102. The EMPRES communication network is still centred on FAO/DLIS (with CRC as the second information node); the parallel exchange of information among DLUs in member countries is not yet frequent. This should be as much a cause of concern for the DLUs as for EMPRES-CR management, as DLUs seem to lack the initiative to establish regular contacts with their peers in other countries. Advances in communication technology in the region will make it even easier in the future to transfer larger files or establish DLU Web sites - a good reason for reviewing the effective use of modern information technology and policies guiding information exchange among EMPRES-CR countries.

103. A related issue is the exchange of information between the Western and the Central Regions. The Mauritanian DLU has made some important advances in improving pesticide application technology, but these are mostly unknown to partner DLUs in the Central Region. Likewise, the Mauritanian DLU (and, therefore, probably also the other DLUs in the Western Region) has only received sporadic information on developments in the Central Region.

104. Web sites are a very useful tool for the dissemination of EMPRES results. A joint CRC/EMPRES-CR Web site should be considered, especially in view of the recent co-location of management personnel in Cairo. As well as information, results and reports, FAO should also consider making training materials on DL available via the Web.


Annex 1


105. The External Peer Review Panel2 met from 9 to 12 December 2001 in Rome to review and comment on the evaluation report of EMPRES (Desert Locust Component). The Panel's comments on this evaluation and the EMPRES (Desert Locust) programme are summarized below.

Quality of the Evaluation

106. The evaluation exercise was conducted with the necessary analytical rigour through a well-balanced approach which ensured that all major issues were duly addressed, while the findings and conclusions were the result of sound judgements made by the team.

107. Unforeseen circumstances and prevailing conditions in some EMPRES member countries limited the geographical coverage of the evaluation and this, together with time constraints, precluded comprehensive discussions with every stakeholder. These constraints were to some extent offset, however, by the prudent use of questionnaires. While this evaluation was too early in phase II of EMPRES-DL to provide requisite information to support negotiations for future funding, it allowed propitious assessment of responses of member countries and FAO headquarters to the recommendations of the previous evaluation in 1999. It also enabled assessment of the performance of member countries, albeit against programme rather than country-specific criteria.

Evaluation Findings and Recommendations

108. The Panel endorses the findings and recommendations in general, and highlights the following:

  1. The concept of EMPRES-DL is technically, economically, strategically and politically sound and it should be implemented as expeditiously and vigorously as is practically possible.
  2. The outcome of EMPRES-CR as the first operational programme is that, in terms of emergency prevention systems, the essentials are in place. Expertise, techniques, technicians, materials and equipment, information and communication services, and regional networking have been upgraded and the Central Region Commission Secretariat is established and operating. EMPRES-CR is a success and thus, with adequate external support, similar success can be expected with EMPRES-WR and, in due course, EMPRES-ER.
  3. There is an urgent need to mobilize donor funding for regional programmes in the Western Region and also in the Eastern Region. With the trend for thematic orientation in donor approach, including the recent establishment of a global trust fund at FAO, it is apposite to explore the most appropriate funding arrangement for this programme. It is suggested that, because the programme is expected to operate in various regions (Central, Western and Eastern) with distinct regional activities, a dual system of funding may be considered whereby EMPRES core, mostly normative, activities are funded by a "Pool Fund" (FAO Regular Programme budget and trust fund with matching contributions by bilateral donors), while region-specific activities will be financed mainly by bilateral donors with FAO technical support.
  4. The issue of inadequate staffing levels at FAO headquarters and in the field is of critical importance, especially in ensuring adequate technical support to the programme and technical monitoring in the field, and the recommendations are strongly supported.
  5. The programme for training trainers is an essential element to capacity building and the Panel endorses the need to monitor the impact of training. Furthermore, it highlights the need for performance assessment of trainers and a longer-term strategy for sustaining and improving expertise at all appropriate levels. The CRC/EMPRES-sponsored diploma course at Khartoum University is seen as a valuable initiative that should be developed elsewhere in the regions, and the plan to produce training manuals is strongly endorsed. Joint Central and Western regions training programmes would enable more efficient use of resources and harmonization of training methods and standards.
  6. Information and its dissemination are also an important issue and the recommendation for updating the Web site and for the networking of timely information on the Web site is endorsed. A stronger EMPRES Web site with relevant country Web links is necessary, and help needs to be provided to countries to create and sustain national Web sites with topical information.
  7. Economic consideration is essential to the development and sustainment of the most cost-effective and efficient strategies for the prevention of desert locust emergencies - the programme should be more proactive on this issue. To date, mostly academic studies have been undertaken and largely on an ad hoc basis without the benefit of guidance of the EMPRES programme regarding the broad spectrum of issues to be considered in such studies. EMPRES has a role in reviewing and evaluating any relevant studies undertaken and in commissioning more comprehensive studies as it moves from crisis to risk management.
  8. Country Focus Programmes (CFPs) are fundamentally important to the successful implementation of EMPRES, as the primary vehicle for programme implementation is the Desert Locust Unit in the member country. The Evaluation Mission suggests there has been a de-emphasis of CFPs in EMPRES-CR Phase II, although AGPP staff consider this to be an oversight rather than a deliberate action. The Panel considers that not only should the importance of CFPs be re-emphasized, but that they should receive greater attention than in the past, as they are critical to the successful implementation and sustainability of improvements made under EMPRES. For each member country, the CFP needs to consider the best way to develop and maintain locust control capacity within the context of the organizational and policy framework of that country. A "one size fits all approach" will not support effective implementation.
  9. The research function is integral to the programme, including promoting improved technologies and methods - not least those for greening control regions through use of biopesticides. The research needed to address all these issues is beyond EMPRES's capacity and, therefore, FAO should enhance its advocacy role to make known what research is needed and encourage response by relevant research organizations and/or through externally funded projects, especially for joint regional research.

Additional Suggestions for the Future

109. The Panel emphasizes that, while the programme might to its advantage commission the necessary in-depth and comprehensive study to provide direct economic justification for its implementation, it is important to note that the socio-economic benefits, not least in terms of prevention of famine, human suffering, depravation and poverty, and the maintenance of political stability and order are central to the sustained development of EMPRES member countries. The potential contribution of EMPRES to the public good in the widest sense is beyond evaluation in purely economic dimensions.

110. In the context of the programme's significant contribution to creating the emergency prevention capacities for the desert locust (DL) in member countries, one concern arising is how best to sustain and improve the capacity throughout the long recession periods that are characteristic of this species. Experience elsewhere strongly indicates the need to ensure that capacities are kept active and operational if they are not to lose efficiency, skills, effectiveness and, not least, motivation. Experience has shown that operational efficiency of dedicated units such as the DL Emergency Prevention Services can be assured by the prudent and temporary redeployment of these services for other pest-oriented operations of concern within DL countries (e.g. other locust spp., armyworm, quelea and grasshoppers).

111. The initial restriction of the programme's scope to the DL was a deliberate and prudent decision: it focused on the pre-eminent migrant pest in the critical points of its recession areas and provided the very sternest test for the concept and its successful implementation within the variable and contrasting situations of member countries. However, its implementation progress to date suggests that broadening of the target pest species under the programme could make it even more effective and beneficial to its member countries than it is already. The contingency planning exercises, as well as early warning, early reaction, training, research and coordination, strengthened under the programme could be put to optimum use if applied not only to DL but also to other transboundary pests.

112. Expansion of coverage to species other than DL would not in any way change the concept or its implementation but rather would build on the concept. Expansion is a logical step in the development of the EMPRES programme and would contribute effectively to making EMPRES the best possible strategy for management of transboundary pests and for prevention of pest emergencies. The consensus among Panel members is that other pests that the EMPRES programme might address in the future, in order of their pest status (severity of their outbreaks), are: a) Central Asian locust spp. (migratory, Moroccan and Italian); b) red locust; c) armyworm; d) quelea; and e) grasshoppers. The appropriate juncture for expansion from DL to other candidate species would seem to be at the start of phase III of the programme, i.e. in 2004. Temporary redeployment of the DL capacity to prevention exercises would involve little extra cost - if any. In essence, all that is involved is the application (with due adjustments) of planning and management capabilities for prevention of emergencies from DL to other pest species.


Annex 2


113. Management notes with satisfaction that there is a general agreement on the concept of EMPRES and on the success of the programme in the Central Region. It is satisfied that the evaluation was based on a sound methodology, including consultation to the extent possible with stakeholders.

114. Management recognizes the limitations of funding presently available to EMPRES, which also translates into limitations in technical supervision and a cautious extension to other regions than the Central Region. As a continuation of funding by donors beyond 2003 is far from secure, management is seeking further pledges for funding to complement the resources that the Organization devotes to this programme.

115. Management recognizes that EMPRES/CR requires further staffing and technical inputs, in particular in the field. If such expertise were available in the field, the need for technical support from Headquarters (AGPP) would be greatly reduced. In any case, the number and variety of activities covered by the programme inevitably mean that AGPP cannot provide detailed technical advice on all aspects. It follows that EMPRES/CR should seek technical advice from expert consultants as they may be required and, within resources, this was included in the PWB 2002-2003. Management also accepts the recommendation that when EMPRES Western Region develops a fully-fledged field programme, additional staffing resources at Headquarters will be needed to provide the necessary technical supervision.

116. Management agrees to the importance of economic considerations to the development and sustainable implementation of cost-effective and efficient strategies for the prevention of Desert Locust emergencies. Management also notes that detailed socio-economic studies on the control of other plant pests, even non-migratory ones, are very rare and very costly. It considers that the present emphasis given to Desert Locust economics, including the sociological impacts of Desert Locust attacks, is sufficient with studies being conducted by EMPRES/CR and bilaterally by several agencies. In this respect, it notes that there is a limit to the number of socio-economic studies that can be carried out when locust populations are at very low levels. When the next locust outbreak occurs, it will be essential to collect data on crop and pasture damage, and the sociological side-effects of the locusts. Management fully agrees to the statement of the peer review committee that the potential contribution of EMPRES to the public good in the widest sense is beyond evaluation in purely economic dimensions.

117. Management notes that some EMPRES studies are examining ways in which the costs of control can be significantly reduced, and it considers that an expansion of studies on this subject would be of great value.

118. Management notes the comments on information exchange of both the evaluation mission and the peer review panel. It agrees that information dissemination needs more attention and that the EMPRES website needs to be strengthened.

119. Management recognizes the importance of research. It agrees to the recommendations of the evaluation mission on long-term sustainability of the research grant scheme. It notes that long-term support to research programmes has indeed been very difficult and it is considering ways to support such programmes further.

120. The suggestion of the Peer Review Panel to consider redeploying EMPRES Emergency Prevention Services for locusts to other transboundary pests needs to be considered very carefully. A number of services are also required in the recession periods, while others may only be required during upsurges and plague situations. EMPRES (Desert Locust) is built on the creation of sustainable national capacity to monitor locust populations as part of an early warning system. Any tendency to redeploy these resources during periods when the locust situation is calm may undermine the early warning capacity and lead to undetected locust outbreaks developing. Historically there are several examples of such scenarios, including the last major plague in 1986. On the other hand, resources for intervention during upsurges and plagues should be identified in countries' emergency plans but may be in part or completely redeployed during recession periods.

121. Management notes that there are three issues related to the extension of EMPRES. Firstly, there is the extension of EMPRES in relation to the Desert Locust to cover more fully the Western Region and to include the Eastern Region. Secondly, in some countries covered by EMPRES (Desert Locust), an enlargement of the EMPRES mandate may cover other migratory pests such as Other Locusts, Armyworm and Quelea birds. Thirdly, the extension of EMPRES to other migratory species may also include different geographical regions than those covered at present by EMPRES. The first two issues have been considered by the evaluation mission; in addition, the third issue was discussed by the peer review panel. Management agrees with the peer review panel that in future an extension to include other migratory pest species covering other geographical areas is highly desirable. The extension of EMPRES to coordinate and improve the management of locust species in Central Asia, including Afghanistan, is considered to be a first priority and would incorporate environmentally-friendlier IPM approaches. The peer review's observation that an expansion to other species would involve little extra costs would hold for costs in countries in which EMPRES is already active, or for other countries where there are Active Desert Locust Control activities. However, it would not necessarily apply, for example, to locusts in Central Asia. Furthermore, any enlargement cannot be achieved without additional resources both to cover required technical posts at Headquarters and to fund field activities.




Plant Production and Protection Division (FAO)


Plant Protection Service (FAO)


Australian Plague Locust Commission


Associate Professional Officer (FAO)


Country Focus Programme


FAO Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in Northwest Africa


FAO Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Western Region


FAO Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Central Region


Department for International Development (United Kingdom)


differential global positioning system


desert locust


Desert Locust Control Committee


Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa


Desert Locust Information Service (FAO)


Desert Locust Technical Group (DLCC)


Desert Locust Control Unit (national)


EMPRES Liaison Officer


Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (FAO)


EMPRES Central Region programme


EMPRES Desert Locust programme


EMPRES Western Region programme


European Union


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


global positioning system


German Agency for Technical Cooperation


high-frequency (radio transmission of information)


International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Nairobi


insect growth regulator


Desert Locust Database (GTZ)


National Professional Officer (FAO)


Natural Resources Institute (United Kingdom)


Plant Protection Department (national)


Reconnaissance and Management System of the Environment of Schistocerca (Geographical Information System [GIS] data management and aid to decision-making, developed by NRI in collaboration with FAO)


Technical Cooperation Programme


ultra low volume


United States Agency for International Development


Wageningen Agricultural University (the Netherlands)



1 Recommendations in italics

2 The Peer Review Panel was comprised of the following persons: Dr Graeme Hamilton (Australia), Director, Australian Plague Locust Commission, Canberra; Dr Roger Price (South Africa), Manager, Locust Division, Plant Protection Research Institute, Pretoria; Dr Mohamed Zehni (the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), retired ex-Director of AGP and the former Research and Technology Development Division (AGR); Prof. Tecwyn Jones (United Kingdom), University of Wales and former Deputy Director of NRI, Department for International Development (DFID); Dr Tayeb Ameziane El Hassani (Morocco), Professor of Agronomy and Director of National Drought Observatory; Dr Mohammed M. El Hannan (the Sudan), Under-Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry; Prof. Hermann Waibel (Germany), University of Hannover.



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