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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04ROME3979
2004-10-15 11:57:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Rome
Cable title:  

LOCUST EMERGENCY: DONORS' MEETING AT FAO,

Tags:  EAID EAGR AORC MASS SENV XI XY FAO 
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						UNCLAS  ROME 003979 

SIPDIS


USAID FOR DCHA/OFDA GOTTLIEB, AFR/FO LAVELLE
STATE FOR IO/EDA, AF, AF/W, AF/EPS, NEA/MAG, OES/ENV
USDA/FAS FOR REICH, HUGHES AND CHAMBLISS
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH; BRUSSELS FOR LERNER

FROM U.S. MISSION TO THE UN AGENCIES IN ROME

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EAGR AORC MASS SENV XI XY FAO
SUBJECT: LOCUST EMERGENCY: DONORS' MEETING AT FAO,
13 OCTOBER 2004

REF: (A) ROME 3681 (NOTAL), (B) ROME 3669 (NOTAL)



1. Summary: At FAO Headquarters on 13 October, Director
General Jacques Diouf and FAO Secretariat staff briefed
representatives of donor governments and affected states
on progress in bringing the locust emergency under
control. FAO reported that the locust plague is "the
worst in fifteen years." After a slow start, control
efforts stepped up dramatically during September, when
745,000 hectares were sprayed. Diouf stated that, due to
the sluggish donor response, what was a $9 million
problem eleven months ago has now become a $100 million
emergency. Thus far, FAO has received $20 million in
contributions, with another $9.5 million pledged. U.S.
representative and other donors, while mindful of the lag
in donor contributions, pointed also to deficiencies in
FAO's response, but they also recognized recent progress
made. U.S. representative highlighted USAID's
commitments to help address the emergency. In a private
meeting with Diouf later in the day, the Ambassador
stressed that USG criticisms of FAO were aimed at
improving the organization's ability to respond to the
present and future emergencies. Separately, U.S. Mission
has tentatively discussed with EUCOM possible use of U.S.
military assets in this emergency. At present we do not
see an immediate need for such USG support, but we will
remain in contact with FAO as it works to overcome
initial glitches in the response effort and becomes
better able to plan for future logistical needs. End
summary.

LOCUST SITUATION



2. The FAO Secretariat characterized the current locust
situation in the Sahel as "the worst in 15 years," and
particularly severe in Senegal, Mauritania, Mali and
Niger. There has been significant damage to crops and
pastureland. A significant number of new swarms are
forming in the above four countries, as well as Burkina
Faso and Chad. These swarms are spreading to the north
and west into Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia,
Libya, and could possibly move southward into the Gambia,
Guinea Bissau and Guinea. Some 3-4 million hectares are
infested. Further details are available at www.fao.org.

CONTROL ACTIVITIES



3. According to the FAO briefing, control activities
have stepped up dramatically. Since the summer, a
cumulative 875,000 ha have been sprayed. Of this,
745,000 ha were sprayed in September alone. The
immediate objective is to protect crops, while reducing
the number of locust. Currently 28 spraying aircraft are
operating in Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Chad.
Another 10 aircraft will be available in the next few
days.

DONOR CONTRIBUTIONS



4. Diouf said that donor contributions have been slow to
come in; donors are putting severe restrictions on how
their funds can be used; and donors are not providing FAO


with information on their contributions (including
bilateral aid). All this has hampered FAO's efforts,
according to Diouf, and the result is that a $9 million
problem eleven months ago has become a $100 million
problem today. Thus far, FAO has received $20 million,
and it is using $6 million of its own funds, and donors
have promised another $9.5 million. The organization has
$38 million in approved projects ready to go, and much
more needs to be done. (Note: these numbers, spoken by
Diouf, do not correspond exactly with the figures U.S.
Mission obtained from the FAO Secretariat shortly
afterwards, and should be taken only as a rough
indication of the current situation.) Additional
constraints, according to Diouf, are: (1) the shortage of
airlift capacity due to competing demands in Darfur and
the Caribbean, (2) the time it takes to gear up pesticide
production, (3) the fact that some pesticides have not
been approved in all affected countries.

DONORS' QUESTIONS



5. Canada wanted to know if FAO could really use
$60 million if it arrived tomorrow, and stressed the
importance of coordination throughout the UN system. A
WFP rep said the UN agencies were "pulling together" in
this crisis. Diouf pointed to the establishment of a
coordination center in Dakar.



6. France said that in the short term there should be
crisis procedures in place that, for instance, permit
rapid transfers of credits. In the medium term, we need
to make sure that the Emergency Prevention System for
Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases
(EMPRES) is effective. And we need to ensure effective
coordination among all the players. Diouf agreed there
are lessons to be learned from this crisis, and the
Secretariat will provide suggestions as to how to assess

SIPDIS
this. He said that EMPRES worked last year when there
was a similar outbreak in Sudan; the problem was
contained and there were no headlines.



7. Sweden said it was about to donate SKr 5 million, but
FAO has not provided any project documents that would
allow Sweden to use that money. Diouf responded that
"there is a limit to what we can do." All donors want
project documents at the same time, he said; it takes
time to negotiate agreements with major donors.



8. The US commended FAO staff for their hard work and
praised the organization for providing timely warning of
the crisis, but reiterated our disappointment with FAO's
response thus far: (1) insufficient transparency and
delays in use of donated funds, (2) delays in
establishing a coordination structure/process, (3)
inadequate staffing in the field, (4) lack of quick
response mechanisms, (5) absence of a comprehensive
information system. (See reftels.) We also mentioned
FAO's failure to use its own Emergency Trust Fund for the
locust crisis, and the Emergency Operations Division's
apparent inability to give us specifics of what kinds of
aid was needed, and precisely where and when, in response
to our queries. We did note that there had been progress

in recent weeks/months, but said that an after-action
review would be important to extract lessons learned. We
also reviewed USAID's $11.3 million commitment thus far
for FY 2004-2005, and USAID/FFP's readiness to contribute
short-term emergency food aid, if needed.



9. Japan mentioned its $3 million contribution,
stressing the need for more efficient procedures, more
information, and more accountability so that the
expenditures could be justified to taxpayers back home.

DIRECTOR GENERAL'S REACTION



10. Diouf reacted defensively and emotionally to some
comments made during the meeting, using inflections and
rhetorical flourishes that seemed to take some dnors
aback. He reiterated that the lag in doQor response was
largely to blame for the cQrrent situation. He said the
Emergency Trust Fund was only $2 million, and that had
alreadybeen allocated to other emergencies. He said hQ
did not understand how FAO could be more trasparent
about funds received. He said it 7as impossible to plan
during a crisis, and difficult to give much advance
notice of anticipaed logistical needs. He conceded
donors' poiQt about the need for strict accountability,
aconciliatory tone, so n a less contentious nNG WITH DIOUF



11. e Ambassador met privatelQl Diouf. The locust eme2mary topic of conversatversation the AmbassadQtions
in criticizingst outbreak were
cons4improve FAO's ability to
o future emergencies.




12. We have taken thQ`rtp@
r rack.



13. In Septembehe possibility of
iQ`Q&0LQQollowed up. We have appreciated EUCOM's willingness to
assist in this effort within DOD operational, budgetary
and policy constraints. In view of the currently fluid
situation on the ground and the apparent mismatch between
U.S. capabilities and current needs of the international
effort being coordinated by FAO, we do not at present


foresee an immediate need for U.S. military involvement
in this crisis in the near term. We will remain in
contact with FAO as it works to overcome initial glitches
in the response effort and becomes better able to plan
for future logistical needs.



13. Minimize considered.

HALL


NNNN
2004ROME03979 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED