COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
Rome, 31 March - 4 April 2003
Programme Evaluation of the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES): Desert Locust
1. Within the new FAO evaluation regime that was initiated in 2001, all programmes and operations are subject to evaluation in the context of the Strategic Framework, with the main frame of reference being the FAO Medium-Term Plan. Such evaluations cover inter alia selected technical programmes, priority areas for interdisciplinary action, thematic topics and increasingly will assess overall progress towards achieving the Organization’s Strategic Objectives. Individual evaluation reports are submitted to the Programme Committee, along with a report from an external peer review panel and a written reaction to the evaluation by FAO’s senior management. The main evaluations considered by the Programme Committee are published in the biennial Programme Evaluation Report, along with the Committee's comments. They are meant to guide future deliberations on the Medium-Term Plan and the Programme of Work and Budget. Recent evaluation reports in relevant areas of interest and the Programme Committee’s comments are presented to COAG for information.
2. An evaluation of the EMPRES-Desert Locust Programme (EMPRES-DL) was carried out in 2001, to examine the achievements of Phase I in the Western Region and Phase II in the Central Region1. In the Central Region, the evaluation found that countries continue to regard the preventive control of DL as a high priority and that there was evidence of increased commitment to developing sustainable DL preventive control programmes. However, progress through the region was uneven and there were doubts if all objectives could be achieved in the time available. In the Western Region, progress was good in some countries (in the Maghreb and Mauritania) but the Programme was not operational in other Sahelian countries, due to less perceived threat in recent years, decline of donor interest and lack of clearly demonstrated socio-economic benefits of preventive DL control programmes.
3. The evaluation recommended improved progress monitoring in countries and possible widening of the EMPRES-DL mandate to include other plant pests and locust-affected regions. It recommended undertaking research on economic benefits of preventive DL control and on the political and social implications of DL outbreaks. The evaluation also made a number of recommendations concerning technical aspects of the Programme.
4. The External Review Panel found that the report was sound in its judgements. It reiterated the importance of the EMPRES-DL Programme and said in the Central Region the Programme was already a success. The Panel made recommendations for how the Programme could be funded in other regions. It drew attention to the need to study the most cost-effective and efficient strategies for prevention of desert locust emergencies. The Panel addressed ways to sustain and improve country capacity during long recession periods. While endorsing the initial focus on desert locusts, it said that EMPRES could usefully be broadened to other species, which would make use of results already achieved in contingency planning, early warning and reaction, training, research and coordination.
5. The FAO management response was basically in agreement with the evaluation. It discussed ways and means to increase staffing and technical inputs and for making the programme more effective. It pointed out some of the difficulties inherent in conducting studies on Desert Locust economics and cautioned about re-deploying monitoring resources at times when the locust situation is calm.
6. The Programme Committee, at its 87th Session in May 2002, noted the consensus on the evaluation recommendations from the External Review Panel and FAO Senior Management, and agreed that EMPRES-DL was technically, strategically and politically sound and should be implemented as expeditiously as possible2. However, it expressed concern about the resource position of the programme due to lower levels of donor support. Accordingly, it expressed support for inclusion of EMPRES in the FAO Trust Fund for Food Security and Food Safety. It also endorsed an expansion of the programme as resources became available, so long as such expansion did not threaten operations already undertaken.
1 PC 87/4 c) "Programme Evaluation of the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES): Desert Locust"
2 CL 123/11 "Report of the 87th Session of the Programme Committee (Rome, 6-10 May 2002)"