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Contingency Planning
The successful introduction of rapid deployment mechanisms and Contingency Planning dependents on:
  • Being prepared for a possible but unlikely emergency situation;
  • Enhancing the capacities of the affected countries to react rapidly in possible outbreak and upsurge situations in the most appropriate and rational manner;
  • Identifying the essential procedures and mechanisms at national, regional and international level required to mobilize additional resources in time.

Two regional Contingency Planning field seminars have been conducted in collaboration with FAO and EMPRES Western Region in 2002 and 2003 to develop a common sense among stakeholders on the need of contingency arrangements. The seminars revealed that upsurge situations will most likely rapidly exceed national resources. It became obvious that suitable early reaction mechanisms need to be in place at national and regional level, but also at international levels in order to synchronise the various efforts and to speed up the process of making additional resources available. As a result of this demonstration, EMPRES/CR, in close collaboration with CRC in all strategic questions, developed mechanisms to support affected countries in their efforts to be prepared for a possible emergency situation.

These mechanisms are built along the following components:
  • Close interaction with the Desert Locust Information Service of FAO (DLIS) and the countries to obtain the most detailed picture of the global locust situation and likely developments.
  • Functional Locust Information Offices and well organized national locust information systems.
  • National Desert Locust Steering Committees, involving different national institutions, the FAO Representation and local donor agencies.
  • Regular updating of the available national resources and informing the Commission of the likely shortfalls, in order to organize necessary assistance well in advance.
  • Ad Hoc Emergency Prevention Meetings with the immediately concerned countries to jointly analyse the predicted situation, and to convene appropriate countermeasures in the context of Regional Action Plans.
  • Based on the regional action plans, more detailed National Action Plans are being prepared and brought to the attention of the national authorities and local donor agencies.
  • National Locust Bulletins to inform the national authorities and the local donor community and the Commission of the locust situation, of actions taken and the control capacities of the LCU. 

This approach has for the first time been tested during the simultaneous Desert Locust outbreak in Western and Central Region in autumn 2003. Alerts have been issued immediately after first signs of a developing outbreak became obvious. Survey and control operations were rapidly mounted and forces mobilized. The operations were conducted in a more systematic and coordinated manner, and succeeded in preventing a developing upsurge in the Central Region.

Still, the threat remains, and the national Locust Control Units have to keep their capacities on full alert in order to prevent a possible second outbreak, and to defend their countries against possible locust invasions from neighbouring regions as it happened in 2004 in and in 2005 in and . In this case, preventive measures alone are no longer suitable. Pre-positioning of enough resources at strategic places and swarm control by using aircraft before they enter the agricultural areas is the only appropriate choice under these circumstances and could be avoided though concerted action of all stakeholders by implementing preventive management strategies.

This underlines also the necessity of closer inter-regional collaboration in developing and introducing preventive Desert Locust management strategies also in the neighbouring regions.
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