Animal health

Preparedness and response


Investing in preparedness to minimize the impact of a disease emergency is a cornerstone of emergency management. This is because preparedness is a capacity – developed by countries and organizations – to effectively plan for, respond to and recover from the impacts of emergencies.

Developing and strengthening capabilities in emergency preparedness is an insurance policy against threats to the livestock sector. By integrating emergency preparedness as a key element of FAO’s resilience work, we promote a holistic approach – emphasizing critical links between good governance, early warning, preparedness, prevention and mitigation of the impacts of emergencies.

Research shows that preparedness measures contribute to lowering human suffering, loss of livelihoods and the financial and time-related costs of humanitarian response. It is estimated that every USD 1 spent on emergency preparedness saves at least double on response operations and provides valuable lead-time.


Response remains an equally important and inevitable step in emergency management. FAO is actively engaged in response efforts and has the ability to rapidly coordinate or deploy missions in countries facing an emergency. It offers support through technical and emergency management expertise as well as surge support.

Within FAO, the Emergency Management Centre for Animal Health (EMC-AH) assists countries in their response efforts to contain and control disease outbreaks. The Centre deploys emergency response missions upon request for support from the government of the affected country, in close collaboration with the FAO country team and Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases  (ECTAD). Those missions serve to enhance the operational readiness and ability to detect and rapidly respond to outbreaks, preventing and controlling their spread in animal populations.

The EMC-AH works with the surveillance team to monitor animal disease outbreaks around the world and remain updated on events.

Good Emergency Management Practices (GEMP)

In order to be prepared for an emergency, key actors in the ministries concerned must have a clearly structured plan and the capacity to implement it. It is important that both factors are tested through simulation exercises prior to the presence of a real threat. The Good Emergency Management Practice (GEMP) guide includes an emergency preparedness cycle with four elements: Prevent, Detect, Respond and Recover. By considering these four elements in its preparedness plan, a country is well on its way to being better equipped to cope with a disease emergency. 

Country and regional GEMP workshops are delivered around the world on a regular basis. Since 2011, over 1 200 people from multiple sectors, including government officials and professionals at national and local levels, have received training. GEMP helps to bolster countries’ preparedness efforts and inform them of the valuable steps to be taken during peacetime to be able to effectively and efficiently manage an outbreak before, during and after an emergency.