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Programme Receives Praise for Efforts on Food Safety, Animal Health

02 December 2013

GLOBAL - A five-agency programme has shown “impressive” and “highly relevant” results in helping developing countries meet international standards on food safety and animal and plant health, according to an independent review for the World Trade Organization.

The 43-page review of the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) reports that “the results are impressive and a testament to the effective operation of the STDF”.

Its role in coordinating assistance projects is also praised as “significant value added.”

The performance of the Secretariat is rated as “efficient and cost effective”.

The report says that projects were considered as “highly relevant to the needs of the beneficiaries and to the policies of partners and donors”. Regional approaches were deemed particularly successful — and an area that STDF should develop further.

Activities funded by the STDF related to preparing projects were considered “a good investment”. Over 50 per cent of total grant funding went to projects originating in least developed countries (LCDs) and other low income countries.

The STDF has successfully established itself as a coordination forum. This role was cited as significant “value added” by the evaluators and relevant to the goals of partner, donors and developing countries, the report says.

The performance of the STDF Secretariat was considered “efficient and cost effective”. The Secretariat’s participative and consultative approach enhanced the effective implementation of projects and activities, it adds.

Donors noted that the grant funding program “allowed them to extend the range of their technical assistance programs on SPS issues at a fraction of the cost than if they were to do it themselves”

Recommendations on how to further strengthen the operation of the Facility, including by adding more staff to strengthen its operation and further enhancing the coordination function will now be discussed by STDF’s partners, donors and developing country experts in the STDF Policy Committee on 23 January 2014. The final report will be circulated to members through WTO’s SPS Committee early next year.

The STDF was set up by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO) and World Trade Organization (WTO), and is run by the five partners together with donor countries and representatives of developing countries.

It assists developing countries build up their capacity to implement sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) requirements — standards for food safety and animal and plant health — through increased awareness and knowledge of good practices, and by funding projects that promote compliance with the standards.

This includes grants to help prepare projects.

The independent review was undertaken by Saana Consulting and covers the period 2009-2013. It examines the STDF’s performance against evaluation criteria developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) — relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and impact. The STDF scored well on all counts.

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