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         Emergency desert locust control project
  

The Algeria Emergency Desert Locust Control project, supported by Loan 3690-AL for US$30 million, was approved in FY94. When it was closed as planned on June 30, 1996, a total of US$27.84 million was canceled, because the requirement for locust control was much below forecast. The FAO/World Bank Cooperative Programme prepared the Implementation Completion Report (ICR) on behalf of the Middle East and North Africa Regional Office. The ICR is based on a desk review, since the security situation in Algeria made visiting the project area impossible. The borrower’s comments on the draft ICR arrived too late to be included in the final report but endorsed the ICR’s findings.

The project had two objectives: to stop a major plague of desert locusts predicted for late 1993 and 1994 by providing short-term emergency financial assistance for Algeria's national locust control program; and, in the long term, to reinforce the existing surveillance and warning systems of the National Institute of Plant Protection (INPV) in the Ministry of Agriculture, enabling it to better predict locust numbers and movements. The project was to finance (i) pesticides and airplanes for three aerial spraying campaigns in 1994 and early 1995 (88 percent of project cost); (ii) vehicles, field telecommunications, and meteorological and laboratory equipment to strengthen national locust control capabilities (12 percent of project cost); and (iii) consultancies, training and technical materials to strengthen the INPV's ability to track locusts, deal with environmental problems stemming from pesticide use, and handle, store, and dispose of pesticides (<1 percent of project cost).

The broad objectives have been met. The locust swarms were stopped, and the INPV has been strengthened. In September and October of 1993, massive locust breeding was reported in the western Sahel (Mauritania, Mali and Niger); these swarms were expected to migrate northeast into Algeria by early 1994. However, good weather conditions in Mauritania in late 1993 maintained plant growth later than usual, reducing pressure on the locusts to move. The good weather and an effective spraying program in Mauritania kept the numbers of locusts moving into Algeria in early 1994 much lower than had been predicted. Extensive aerial spraying was not required in 1994 and 1995, and only about 83,000 ha needed surface spraying, compared with the initial estimate of 1.5 million ha. Existing pesticide stocks proved sufficient for the necessary spraying, eliminating the need to buy more. Only around US$2.2 million was spent on vehicles and equipment for the INPV.

The Operations Evaluation Department (OED) concurs with the ICR in rating the project outcome as satisfactory, institutional development as modest, and Bank performance as satisfactory, even though security conditions prevented any supervision missions. The ICR rates sustainability as likely. However, given that the primary objective of this project was as a one-time, emergency operation, designed to stop an invasion of locust swarms, and given that any future outbreak is dependent upon climatic conditions distant from Algeria, OED considers that the concept of sustainability does not apply to this project. Therefore, it rates sustainability as 'not applicable'. However, it notes that the expenditure on improving the equipment and operations of INPV, Algeria's capacity to tackle future outbreaks has been enhanced.

This was the second Bank supported locust control operation in Algeria. The first, supported by Loan 3017-AL for US$58 million, was approved in FY89 and closed in FY91. In that case weather conditions were also favorable, the required scale of operations was below forecast, and US$36 million (62 percent) of the loan was canceled.

The experience of these two projects supports the recommendation of World Bank Discussion Paper 284, "Desert Locust Management: A Time for Change", which argues that individual country funding, such as a Bank loan, supplied on an emergency basis, is not a satisfactory mechanism for financing the costs borne by individual countries of controlling international pest outbreaks. This approach has been a response to the decline in support for regional control efforts. What is needed now is an expanded effort to improve international coordination of action to control desert locusts. There also needs to be a change in strategy from an overriding concern to eliminate an upsurge at all costs, to a strategy based on the principles of integrated pest management, where a variety of available means are used to keep economic, environmental and social impacts within acceptable threshold limits.

As noted, the ICR was based on a desk review. In the absence of field supervision, OED could not verify project reporting. Given these limitations, the ICR provides a satisfactory account of project implementation. However, it provides no plan for continued operation.

No audit is planned.




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