Устойчивость к внешним воздействиям
Participants gather for a GEMP-BT workshop in Marrakech thanks to funding from Global Affairs Canada Photo credit. ©FAO.

Building resilience against agro-terrorism and agro-crime in North Africa

12/04/2022

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) held a Good Emergency Management Practice - Bio-Threat (GEMP-BT) workshop in Marrakech, Morocco, on 21-25 March 2022, tailored to veterinary services and law enforcement agents from Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. The team welcomed 35 participants to this first-of-its-kind training-of-trainers workshop, presenting the new approach and notions of Good Emergency Management Practice (GEMP) and a brand new module addressing the risk of bio-threats

The training, which was implemented by an FAO team and a representative from the OIE regional office, with INTERPOL supporting remotely, enabled participants to gain an understanding of the significance of potential biological threats to animal health and production; apply the GEMP methodology to preparing to respond to agro-terrorism and agro-crime; become familiar with the prerequisites for prevention, surveillance, detection and response to agro-terrorism and agro-crime, and adapt them to specific contexts and situations; and understand the specifics of handling, securing and tracing evidence.

The activity was carried out under a project funded by Global Affairs Canada's Weapons Threat Reduction Program, “Building resilience against agro-terrorism and agro-crime”. This is a joint project with activities coordinated by a consortium of three organizations: FAO, the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The FAO portion of the project is being implemented by the FAO Emergency Management Centre for Animal Health (EMC-AH). Through its activities, including this workshop, the project aims to strengthen collaboration between veterinary and law enforcement authorities to build sustainable global and regional capacity in the event of an animal health emergency resulting from an act of agro-terrorism or agro-crime against animals. 

Bringing national agencies together to tackle bio-threats 

The workshop kicked off with an intensive refresher training session in GEMP, followed by a multi-day training-of-trainers session on the new bio-threat module developed under the project. Throughout the week, participants engaged in practical activities, with both animal health and law enforcement agencies working closely together to observe and discuss their country’s level of preparedness with regard to the risk of bio-threats. The workshop itself provided an ideal setting for animal health and law enforcement agencies to network and forge good relations going forward, as well as to analyse and discuss the systems in place in their country to tackle those threats. 

Participants from three countries attend the GEMP-BT workshop. ©FAO/Eibhlinn Lynam.

The main objective of the new bio-threat module of GEMP is to present the specifics of an animal health incident potentially related to agro-crime and agro-terrorism, and to reflect on a strategy to provide effective responses to the areas of prevention, detection and control of suspected outbreaks. The workshop served to guide participants in the planning and organizing of response activities, in line with the methodology proposed by the GEMP. GEMP workshops aim to provide the basic principles of emergency preparedness and response planning, to share the participants' respective experiences, and to provide them with practical knowledge based on the principles of emergency management. In addition to the classic GEMP, the GEMP-BT module deals specifically with surveillance of and response to criminal or terrorist malicious acts that would require collaboration between the veterinary and  law enforcement sectors.

Veterinarians and law enforcement officers from Tunisia engage in a group activity during the workshop©FAO/Eibhlinn Lynam.

An animal health emergency is one of the most complex crises that veterinary services can face. They need to be well prepared to handle it and to be able to control it quickly and at the lowest cost. This requires a clear plan, the means to implement it, and the ability to test that plan. When that animal health event is linked to terrorism or crime, good collaboration between veterinary services and law enforcement agencies is essential to address it rapidly and with success. The methodology and skills relayed to participants during the workshop were designed to be useful in preparing for emergencies such as bioterrorism attacks on animal production, food safety, zoonotic diseases and even non-infectious diseases

Participants carry out a teambuilding icebreaker activity during the workshop. ©FAO/Eibhlinn Lynam.

Following the workshop, participants will continue to be supported  by the project implementation team across the three organizations, with in-country project focal points identified during previous missions supporting communication efforts between the relevant agencies. Other workshops are planned for the near future as the training phase of the project is finalized, in particular on the use of standard operating procedures and a simulation exercise, to support countries in the process of introducing this newly identified cooperation. A major national, regional and international exercise will also be held to test and put into practice the knowledge gained during this workshop and others.

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