Regional Highlights
 
1. Africa

OVERVIEW

20. Emphasis was placed on enhancing project management through systematic monitoring and increased interaction with counterpart institutions in Member States. Special efforts were also devoted to strengthening the implementation of the Model Project and Country Programme Framework (CPF) modalities to promote the Agency Partnership in Development strategy and to achieve focused country programmes for 1997-98.

21. Increased management efforts in close collaboration with recipient Member States have resulted in improved efficiency in the delivery of the TC programme. An implementation rate of over 78% confirms the improving quality of project design in recent years, and illustrates the efforts made by counterpart institutions to enhance their absorptive capacity in spite of the difficult social and economic conditions prevailing in many countries. Efforts to achieve focused country programmes in line with national priority development needs have resulted in an increased support to the Agency's TC programme among developing Member States in Africa and raised their awareness of the potential role and contribution of nuclear technologies in achieving sustainable development.

22. Upstream work was also strengthened, particularly through increased dialogue with Member States. In Uganda, for example, a proposed Model Project on isotope hydrology was identified and integrated with the DANIDA supported national project on groundwater management. DANIDA is committed to providing US $6 million to the Ugandan Government over five years. Groundwater is the major source of water for rural communities, which constitute over 90% of the population. Due to the increasing demand for water, there is a need for reliable estimates of groundwater recharge in the semi-arid rural areas and in weathered zone aquifers. This co-operation opportunity is expected to enhance the impact and sustainability of the project.

23. Consultations with the Ethiopian national authorities led to the formulation of a large scale Model Project aimed at eradication of tsetse flies in a 25,000 km2 area in the Southern Rift Valley through the use of the sterile insect technique (SIT). A delegation headed by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture met at the Agency Headquarters in June and November 1996 to refine the project document and plan implementation. The project is an important step in applying integrated SIT control in mainland Africa.

24. Special emphasis continued to be placed on the development of CPF. Dialogue was maintained with Member States for which the CPF process had been completed and, following field studies, planning opportunities were developed for Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya and Nigeria. The CPF exercise was useful in assessing past and current assistance and in determining priority areas for future co-operation in these countries:

- In Côte d'Ivoire, consultations with national authorities focused on human health and agriculture. Two priority areas for technical co-operation were identified in support of the implementation of the Master Plan for Agricultural Development (1992-2005): developing new agricultural practices for increased coconut palm productivity at the farm level; and establishing a regional reference laboratory for animal disease diagnosis, as part of an international effort to eradicate rinderpest from Africa.

- Consistent with the priorities of Kenya's water policy, the assessment of groundwater resources of the Merti and Naivasha aquifers was identified as a key issue in planning future economic and social development in these semi-arid regions. Soil fertility studies, crop improvement and livestock production will be considered in future country agriculture programmes.

- In Nigeria, the application of isotope techniques in the water resource assessment of the Sokoto-Rima Hydrological Basin is one of the priority areas. In agriculture, priority will be given to improving maize and rice production and animal disease diagnosis, particularly for rinderpest and contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP).

25. The combination of planning mechanisms (including CPF, thematic planning in radiation protection, programme review missions and co-ordination and project formulation meetings) have resulted in a targeted programme for 1997-98 that addresses the developmental issues and priority needs of the region. The number of project proposals which have the features of Model Projects has increased significantly, and ten new Model Projects are included in the 1997-98 programme. They cover a wide range of social and economic activities: quality control in petroleum industry (Cameroon); animal disease diagnosis (Côte d'Ivoire); isotope production for nuclear medicine (Egypt); tsetse fly eradication (Ethiopia); radiation protection training (South Africa); development of a national radiotherapy service (Sudan); establishment of a biological tissue bank (Zambia); and production of biofertilizers for increased crop production (Zimbabwe). Regional Model Projects deal with cross-border problems such as management of groundwater resources, control of human communicable diseases, and eradication of rinderpest in Africa.

26. In line with the objectives of the United Nations Special Initiative for Africa (UNSIA), a large share of Agency assistance will focus on food security, water resources, health care and capacity building. Food and agriculture will have the highest share (31%), followed by general atomic energy development (19%) and human health (18%). Industry and hydrology each account for 10% of the programme. For 1997-98, the TC programme in Africa will benefit 26 countries and consists of 134 projects. Compared to 1995-96, a reduced number of requests submitted by Member States, combined with better planned projects, have resulted in a reduction in the number of rejections of requests for assistance from 50% (1995-96) to about 26% (1997-98). This improvement in the efficiency of the programme is a consequence of extensive pre-project activities and increased consultations with Member States during the programming process.

REGIONAL ACTIVITIES

27. In view of the nature and scope of common problems, regional co-operation has continued to be central to increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the TC programme in Africa. The regional Model Project on water resources development made steady progress, with isotope investigations and geochemical data proving useful to water resources management in all four participating countries (Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, Senegal).

28. Animal disease, in particular rinderpest, continued to receive high priority. In support of the Pan African Rinderpest Campaign (PARC) which aims at eradication of the disease by the year 2002, a Regional Model Project RAF/5/043 was formulated for the 1997-98 programme to complement other international efforts. As mass vaccination comes to a conclusion, efforts will concentrate on removing the remaining pockets of infection by focusing on surveillance capabilities in national laboratories using the most modern molecular technologies. This will enable participating countries to provide rapid identification of the disease or confirm its elimination.

29. The Agency is collaborating with FAO in a regional project in support of food security in low income food deficit countries (LIFDCs). Nuclear and related techniques were used to monitor nutrients and pesticides on farmers' fields in pilot areas in Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Senegal, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia. The monitoring data obtained by the N15 technique was used by extension personnel and farmers in these countries to develop technology packages of best practices or to improve existing packages.

AFRA

30. Intensive programme development activities initiated in 1995 and pursued in 1996 produced positive results, which were reflected in the new AFRA five-year programme 1997-2001. AFRA's 22 Member States agreed on areas of common interest, including nuclear medicine, clinical radiotherapy, agriculture, maintenance of scientific and medical instruments, radiation protection and waste management. Much of the year's effort concentrated on developing projects under four priority programmes (crop improvement, radioimmunoassay, radiation technology, and radiation safety).

31. The 7th Technical Working Group Meeting held in Zaria, Nigeria, in April 1996 approved ten co-operative projects under the four thematic programmes. A detailed regional workplan for 1997-2001 was formulated to assist the countries in expanding the scope of AFRA activities within the region, notably through : (i) a broader use of radioimmunoassay techniques for tumor markers relevant to the management of some common cancers; (ii) performance assessment of some improved crop varieties and the release of the most economically viable ones; (iii) the stimulation of industrial radiation processing of medical products and the preservation of foodstuffs; and (iv) the safer use of ionizing radiation and the disposal of radioactive sources. Many TCDC related activities have been included in the five-year workplan with the aim of promoting it as an important instrument for enhancing development in the region.

32. Creating an AFRA field management structure that will gradually assume all decisions and managerial activities was an essential step towards full ownership by Member States of TC activities under the AFRA Programme. Moreover, the provision of cost-free assistants to the chairperson of AFRA is an indication of commitment by Member States to the spirit and ideals of AFRA and to sharing the available expertise and facilities in the region. Shifting from the project-by-project approach to thematic programming is another promising innovation.

33. Extrabudgetary contributions from France, the United States and the OPEC Fund supported AFRA Member States activities in radioimmunoassay, mutation breeding, biotechnology and nuclear instrumentation.

34. Continued efforts were made on upgrading the radiation protection infrastructure as part of the Interregional Model Project. The Regional Field Manager for Africa visited 12 countries and Action Plans were finalized for ten of them. Efforts were made to sensitize national authorities in the concerned Member States on the necessity to increase their commitment to radiation safety and to provide adequate resources for the implementation of Action Plans. Provision of Agency inputs in terms of expert services, training and equipment supply was initiated for those countries that endorsed their Action Plan.

35. For 1997-98, the regional programme (including AFRA) consists of 20 projects and represents 44% of the TCF programme for Africa. The involvement of national experts in the planning and design of regional activities has been promoted through co-ordination and formulation meetings. The active participation of Member States from the project design stage onward is expected to increase their commitment during implementation.

HIGHLIGHTS OF NATIONAL PROGRAMMES

36. Four national Model Projects were operational during 1996 and reached the following milestones:

- The Model Project URT/5/016 - Tsetse Fly Eradication on Zanzibar Island. Following an increase in the production of sterile males at the Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Research Institute in Tanga , the routine aerial releases were expanded in July 1996 to cover the entire island of Unguja. The complete elimination of the wild tsetse fly population is projected for the end of 1997. In fact, no wild fly has been captured since the beginning of September 1996 prompting the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to declare that "eradication appears inevitable". Trypanosomiasis has also declined as a result of fly control.

- The Model Project MLI/5/014 - Field Performance of Selected Mutants of Sorghum and Rice in Mali. Supporting multilocation field trials to select high yielding sorghum and African rice varieties led to satisfactory results with respect to sorghum: a significant yield increase of up to 38% was observed at two of the five trial stations.

- The Model Project GHA/6/009 - National Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine Network in Ghana. 16 of the 25 fellows completed training in nuclear medicine, medical physics, radiography and oncology nursing. Funds from the USA supported delivery of key brachytherapy equipment to the Komfoanokye Hospital, Kumasi. Construction of the hospital in Accra was recently completed and the teletherapy equipment and simulator were installed using funds contributed by China.

- The Model Project TUN/6/005 - Screening of Newborns for Neonatal Hypothyroidism. The centres for analysis of blood samples in Tunis, Sousse and Sfax became fully functional. Steps are being taken to expand the screening programme nationwide.

37. As in the past, assistance in areas pertaining to food and agriculture continued to be the central thrust of the national TC programmes in Africa. A number of TC projects completed in 1996 helped to develop local capabilities and to deal with issues of national priority:

- In Côte d'Ivoire, at the Coconut Research Station, Forestry Institute IDEFOR, studies carried out with Agency support have led to an increase in the productivity of coconut palms by a factor of at least five as a result of introducing new agricultural practices based on multiple cropping with leguminous trees. These agricultural practices are expected to be applied in farming across the country.

- In Senegal National Laboratory for Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, reliable diagnosis techniques have been established and are routinely used in an ongoing vaccination programme co-ordinated under the Pan African Rinderpest Campaign (PARC). As a result of this seromonitoring programme, Senegal recently made a provisional declaration of freedom from rinderpest and suspended vaccination against this disease.

- In Mauritius, in view of the importance of sugar production to the economy, the Agency has been supporting the Sugar Industry Research Institute in carrying out studies on fertilizer efficiency in sugarcane cultivation. It was demonstrated that a reduction of 30% in the current recommended rate of nitrogen fertilizers is possible through drip irrigation without affecting cane and sugar yields. This will reduce environmental pollution by nitrates.

38. In Zambia, a project on radiation sterilization of tissue grafts also produced encouraging results. Clinical trials demonstrated reduced rates of infection and improved rates and quality of healing when amnion tissue allografts were used rather than more expensive surgical and pharmaceutical dressings. Building on this success, a Model Project aimed at establishing a tissue bank was included in the 1997-98 programme to make low cost tissue grafts for the treatment of burns more widely available.

2. Latin America

OVERVIEW

39. Many Latin American and Caribbean countries continued to reorganize their nuclear sectors to adapt to the new priorities of their countries during 1996. The planning of the 1997-98 TC programme cycle was the focus of activities during the year. Country Programme Framework (CPF) exercises were carried out in Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador and Peru. In order to obtain additional information on project proposals considered to have potential, 17 technical missions were fielded during the year. Follow-up meetings were held in Vienna with some counterparts that were invited to reformulate project requests and work plans. This detailed programme planning clearly established that applied nuclear techniques in human health, hydrology, agriculture and industry continue to be the main areas of interest for most of the Latin American countries.

REGIONAL ACTIVITIES

40. The regional activities in Latin America consist of projects on manpower development, nuclear medicine, radiation protection, NPP management and ARCAL.

41. Radiation protection infrastructure improved as a result of a number of measures adopted by ARCAL Members following the conclusions of Project RLA/9/016 "Radiation Protection Legal Framework (ARCAL XVII)". Nevertheless, ten countries in the region still do not have the necessary conditions to ensure the safe use of nuclear techniques in various sectors. These countries are participating in the interregional Model Project on Upgrading Radiation Protection Infrastructure (INT/9/143), which consolidates the Agency's global efforts in this area.

42. A regional training course on design and evaluation of TC projects was organized in the Dominican Republic to extend the Model Projects approach throughout the region's programme and to improve the design of ARCAL projects.

ARCAL

43. The Agency and participating Member States continued the reorganization of the ARCAL programme. Participating countries are appraising project proposals without assistance from the Agency for the first time using the new ARCAL appraisal system, which will also be the basis for formulating projects for the 1999-2000 biennium. The criteria for these projects are: (a) they address areas of interest for the promotion of technical co-operation among the countries of the region; (b) the end-users are well identified and in many cases are participating in the formulation of the project; and (c) a detailed plan of activities with clear objectives and anticipated results for each project has been prepared.

44. A working group meeting was held in Montevideo, Uruguay in November 1996 to prepare a regional co-operation plan to be implemented within the ARCAL Programme during its fourth phase 1997-2000. Eight experts from the region attended and prepared the first draft of this plan to be used by national co-ordinators.

45. The Model Project RLA/6/027 - Upgrading Nuclear Medicine Practices (ARCAL XXIII), continued to make progress towards increasing the utility and extending the life of existing nuclear medicine equipment in Latin America and the Caribbean by upgrading old gamma cameras and replacing nuclear medicine computer systems. Three interface cards developed for the project by Cuba, Slovenia and India are being tested in different types of gamma cameras. The purpose is to select the appropriate cards for upgrading approximately 25 old gamma cameras in identified hospitals in the participating countries. Five units have been upgraded to date.

46. At the beginning of 1996, the ARCAL Programme comprised 12 projects, half of which were concluded during 1996.

HIGHLIGHTS OF NATIONAL PROGRAMMES

47. The performance indicators agreed to in 1995 were used to monitor the progress of the six Model Projects in the region. The following milestones were reached in 1996:

- In Argentina, under the Model Project ARG/5/005 - Fruit Fly Eradication in the Southern Region, which focuses on control/eradication of the medfly from 500,000 ha in Mendoza Province, important progress was made after the set-back of the previous year due to the financial crisis in the country. The estimated national contribution of US $13 million per year was made available for the entire programme. The timely release of sterile medflies and the massive use of a medfly genetic sexing strain, applying the most advanced technology available, contributed to successfully suppressing the wild fruitfly population in the target area. The Plant Protection Institute (ISCAMEN) was created to manage the project within Mendoza province, with improvement in operations and savings of about US $1.5 million per year. In Patagonia, the medfly eradication programme was initiated with the financial participation of fruit growers and exporters and with technical assistance from the Agency, FAO, SENASA (the Services for Plant Health, Food and Agricultural Quality) and ISCAMEN. Overall, the project aims to complete eradication in a total area of 750,000 ha.

- In El Salvador, the Model Project ELS/8/005 - Isotope Hydrology and Geochemistry in Geothermal Fields, supports the "Comisión Ejecutiva Hidroeléctrica del Río Lempa (CEL)" in investigating the hydrology and the processes affecting fluids in geothermal areas. It has enabled the formulation of scientifically sound strategies for geothermal energy utilization as well as for appropriate disposal of wastewater through reinjection. The development of local capability for independent investigation by isotopes and geochemistry, (constituting one third of the scientific data used by decision makers to exploit the reservoir) was an important contribution of this project. To achieve this an isotope laboratory has been established and techniques for isotope analysis transferred under the complementary project ELS/8/004 - Isotope Hydrology in Geothermal Fields. This comprehensive approach to isotope hydrology has helped CEL establish the capacity to support geochemical work in El Salvador's geothermal energy development programme.

- In Mexico, the Model Project MEX/6/005 - National Programme of Training in Medical Physics, has been technically completed. Initiated in 1994, the project was funded by an extrabudgetary contribution from the United States. Mexico has about 100 radiotherapy installations using Co-60 and clinical accelerators, more than 20,000 diagnostic X-ray units, and 100 nuclear medicine centres, but scarcely 30 professionals in medical physics. Two four-module courses have been completed, one in March and the other in November, yielding ten diplomas in medical physics. In each course, one of the graduates was from outside Mexico (Guatemala and Nicaragua). In addition, an agreement has been reached between ININ and the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (UAEM) to establish a programme for MSc and PhD in medical physics to help meet future needs. The programme now continues without Agency assistance, with 20 students currently enrolled.

- In Peru, the Model Project PER/7/003 - Nuclear Techniques to Improve Child Nutrition, began evaluating nutritional effects of a breakfast programme for Peruvian school children as well as a WHO-sponsored vitamin A supplementation programme for Peruvian infants. Almost 75% of the eligible students participated in the breakfast programme evaluation - a rate of acceptance achieved through direct counterpart dialogue with parents, teachers, and local school officials. Information obtained from isotope tracer techniques enabled the determination of micronutrient bioavailability and dietary energy utilization. The Model Project has stimulated the Government's Poverty Alleviation Programme to consider updating evaluations of nutritional status in the context of other programmes. The project recently began evaluating the nutritional status of 400,000 pre-school children who will soon participate in the daily pre-school feeding programme.

- In Uruguay, the Model Project URU/6/022 - Early Diagnosis of Congenital Diseases in Children, has established the necessary infrastructure at the Hospital de Clínicas in Montevideo to extend the National Hypothyroidism Screening Programme. A Presidential decree requiring nation-wide screening has been enacted, and all newborn babies are currently being tested for hypothyroidism. An independent assessment by scientific staff of the Texas Department of Health found that "remarkably, the coverage of the newborn population rapidly progressed to full coverage in only two years." Facilities for the use of radioisotope-based DNA techniques have also been established for the screening of cystic fibrosis.

- In Venezuela, the daily water supply deficit in Caracas has been reduced with the contribution of the Model Project VEN/8/010 - Groundwater Resources in the Caracas Valley. Geochemical and environmental isotope methods were used to evaluate the potential of the Caracas aquifer to supply good quality water to serve areas frequently affected by water shortages, including institutions such as hospitals and schools. Following the recommendations from the hydrological studies, more than 60 wells were drilled in 1995 and 1996, providing around one cubic meter per second of good quality water. This new groundwater source has already contributed to reducing the chronic water shortage of Caracas, which was estimated to be about three cubic meters per second. As a result of this project, residents of Caracas are expecting a less severe water shortage in 1997. A groundwater level monitoring system has also been established and a mathematical flow model is being developed to guarantee the sustainability of the Caracas aquifer as a strategic reserve.

48. Two ongoing projects approved in the 1995-96 cycle were also upgraded to the category of Model Projects for the new 1997-98 cycle:

- BRA/4/043 - Production of Iodine-123 via Xenon Target, will introduce new technology to improve the performance of a cyclotron facility. This project was upgraded during 1996, because the existing technology for producing Iodine-123 produced only 50mCi/batch, which was inadequate to meet local demand. The project is expected to increase output thirty times to 1,500mCi/batch, which is enough to cover the needs of the Rio de Janeiro region.

- The Government of Brazil pledged full financial support to the feasibility study under BRA/8/025 - Electron Beam Purification of Waste Water, to determine the applicability of the system at the industrial level. Industrial waste is a serious problem for municipal sanitation officials and a major cost for industry. A single company currently pays fees of over US $10 million biannually for pre-treatment of liquid effluents before discharge. Initial results of sampling done in 1996 suggest that electron beam purification may provide the solution, hence the attraction of both the Government and industry .

49. In Paraguay, the project PAR/8/005 "Use of Tracers in Water Supply and Pollution Studies" succeeded in establishing tritium and carbon-14 techniques at the Sanitary Works Corporation (CORPOSANA), the national water authority responsible for supplying potable water to the population. These techniques are now applied in hydrological studies. The project created links between the institutions responsible for water resources and environmental pollution studies and established the necessary conditions for the Model Project PAR/8/006 - Groundwater Studies in Eastern Region and Chaco, which will begin in 1997.

50. A multipurpose irradiation plant (PER/8/004) was successfully inaugurated in Peru in 1996 after more than ten years of effort by the counterparts and the Agency . It has now started to irradiate medical supplies as well as agricultural products and, by steadily increasing its throughput, is expected to be commercially viable in the near future.

51. Under the project URU/8/009 "Study of Environmental Quality of the Bay of Montevideo", a survey was completed on transport of bottom sediment in the Uruguay River, near Carmelo, by the National Directorate of Nuclear Technology. A dredged channel allows navigation from the deeper central part of the river to the port, but needs frequent redredging. The Directorate of Hydrography (DNH) wanted to know the sedimentation rate and bottom sediment transport before committing to a new channel where less sedimentation was expected. However, the studies revealed that the dredging cost for the new channel would be up to two times higher than the annual dredging costs for the existing channel. As a result of the study, the new channel was abandoned and all efforts are being directed to the recovery of the old channel.

3. East Asia and Pacific

OVERVIEW

52. Countries in the East Asia and Pacific region have diversified interests in the applications of nuclear energy. Three have substantial nuclear power programmes and three others are studying the option. Four are quite well advanced in the industrialization process and two others are least developed countries (LDC).

53. Following the CPF mission to the Philippines in 1995, the country programme has received solid attention from the Government. A project on Nuclear Medical Techniques in Preventive Nephrology (PHI/6/018) was formulated and approved as a Model Project for 1997. This project will contribute to cost-effective prevention and management of kidney disease. Each year, about 7000 new cases of end-stage kidney disease require dialysis or transplantation. With current resources, however, treatment is only possible for 700 patients. Prevention is clearly an important alternative. More than 1.4 million out of 10.7 million nursery school children already screened show urinary tract abnormalities. In Vietnam the CPF identified three key areas where nuclear applications could play a significant role in reaching national objectives. These are energy, environment and health.

54. During 1996, 273 TC projects were operational in 13 recipient countries in the region, including 38 footnote-a/ and two UNDP projects, entitled Manpower Development for Safe Operation of Nuclear Power Plants (in China); and The use of Isotopes and Radiation to Strengthen Technology and Support Environmentally Sustainable Development (joint UNDP/RCA/IAEA project). Both UNDP projects were completed at the end of 1996. Following the recommendations and views expressed by Member States at the TACC and Board meetings, efforts were made to ensure that implementation of project components follows objectives for TCDC. For example priority considerations are given to fielding experts from developing countries in the region. Efforts were also made to identify suitable host institutions for placement of fellows and scientific visitors in the region.

55. Five countries in the region (Bangladesh, Mongolia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Vietnam) are participating in the Interregional Model Project INT/9/143 "Upgrading Radiation Protection Infrastructure". Activities closely co-ordinated with operational projects in these Member States aimed at upgrading their infrastructure to meet the Basic Safety Standards (BSS). Individual action plans tailored to the level of intervention necessary in each participating country were finalized and transmitted to all those countries for acceptance and implementation. Missions by regional experts were fielded to assist the respective Member States in implementing the agreed action plans.

REGIONAL ACTIVITIES

56. Three regional projects outside the RCA Agreement were operational. The first, RAS/5/030 "Feed Supplementation and Animal Production Strategies" is designed to use locally available agriculture and agro-waste by-products to provide supplemental nutrients to livestock. The project directly involves farmers from eight participating countries. Participating farmers in the region have been taught to prepare feed blocks for their livestock using locally available agricultural residues and by-products, such as molasses. Initial results, for example in Bangladesh, have shown that the production of milk increased by 15%, and the calving to conception period was reduced by an average of 58 days.

57. The second regional project RAS/4/015 "Operational and Safety Issues of NPPs" focuses on efforts to assist the management of NPPs in identifying and solving problems that would otherwise result in performance and safety shortfalls. The project also aims to develop the capability of carrying out self-assessments of NPP performance by the national and operating organizations through regional peer reviews.

58. The third regional project RAS/5/029 "Nuclear Techniques for the Promotion of Agroforestry Systems" has the objective of addressing the critical issues of low crop yields and shortage of fuel wood. Integration of nitrogen fixing trees into agroforestry systems can make a substantial contribution to restoring and maintaining soil fertility, increasing and sustaining crop production and combating erosion, in addition to providing fodder and fuel wood. The main task of the participating countries is to identify the most suitable species of trees for local conditions. Most the participating Member States have made this selection involving farmers and smallholders. The plan is to extend the involvement of more farmers in planting the identified species in participating countries.

59. A new regional project aims to develop the region's vast geothermal energy resources through improved co-operation with Member States that are exploring this energy source: China, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia. Under TC project PHI/8/016, isotopic investigations revealed that savings in drilling costs of US $1.2 million at the geothermal field could be achieved. The Philippine and other country experiences were discussed at a regional training workshop on Isotope Techniques in Hydrology and Geochemistry for Geothermal Energy Development. The Workshop formulated a new regional project "Geothermal Energy Resources and Environmental Management" (RAS/8/075) which was included in the 1997-98 TC programme.

RCA

60. At the end of 1996, thirteen out of seventeen RCA Member States endorsed the extension of the agreement for a further five-year period covering June 1997 to June 2002. Throughout 1996, dialogue continued between the RCA Member States and the IAEA on improving the programme management. A task group meeting to review the management structure of the RCA Programme and develop proposals for the future was held in Vienna in September 1996. During the 25th General Conference, Member States agreed to the Task Group's report.

61. Under the project RAS/6/022 "Strengthening Nuclear Medicine in RCA Member States", funded by Australia, distant learning material was prepared covering basic mathematics, physics, effects of radiation and radiation protection practices. This material is modular in design, so that students complete one piece of work before moving on to the next. Also, a multimedia curriculum package for training operators of tissue banks was finalized under RAS/7/003. This package will standardize the establishment, operation and management of a tissue bank.

62. The Agency has assisted the Member States of the region in building and upgrading national capacity in tissue sterilization and banking for a number of years. After a disastrous fire in Quezon City, the Philippines, counterparts in Indonesia and Malaysia immediately provided radiation sterilized tissues to treat numerous burn victims. This emergency network was created spontaneously and provides a practical example of the human value of TCDC.

63. During 1996, a total of 21 operational projects were under RCA management. A total of 19 training events were carried out providing training to 309 participants. The total budget available for RCA activities was over $3.5 million. The Agency's share was approximately 50%, UNDP's share about 30% and Member States' share about 20%.

HIGHLIGHTS OF NATIONAL PROGRAMMES

64. The performance indicators established in 1995 were used to monitor all Model Projects in the region, and the following milestones were reached:

- Under the project BGD/5/017 - Biofertilizers for Increased Legume Production, in Bangladesh, the Agricultural Extension Department of the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Bangladesh Institute for Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) provided training to 750 block supervisors who each trained five farmers. Thus, about 3,800 farmers received training on the use of biofertilizer during 1996. Efforts to involve the private sector in the production and distribution of the biofertilizer have been intensified. The objective for 1997 is to commercially produce biofertilizers for broad distribution, with expected increases in legume production of over 30% with applications of 200g/ha.

- In Mongolia, the teletherapy machine installed in August 1995, is in full operation under the project MON/6/006 - Upgrading Radiation Therapy Services. In 1996, the teletherapy machine provided almost 10,000 treatment sessions of radiation therapy of both in- and out-patients.

- In Sri Lanka, the project SRL/7/003 - Radiation Sterilization of Human Tissue for Transplantation is nearing completion. A human tissue bank was inaugurated and in mid-1996, 90,000 registered donors have agreed to participate, oblation of one's body being inherent in the religious culture. The Agency provided expert advice on GMP to support the tissue bank, which now is ready to meet local and international requirements.

65. Within the region, nuclear power is widely perceived as a valid option to meet rapidly growing energy demand. The Agency has assisted several countries in the safety aspects and overall planning of their nuclear power programmes:

- In China, the UNDP project "Manpower Development for Safe Operation of Nuclear Power Plants (NPP)" was successfully completed and achieved the objectives. The Qinshan NPP full scope simulator is operational and capabilities now exist to train control room operators. Improved capabilities for in-service inspection and root cause analysis have strengthened outage management, which reduces NPP refueling time. The plant engineering analyzer has been installed and benchmarked to the Qinshan NPP. The Agency is also actively providing assistance to China to improve locally designed nuclear power reactors through probabilistic safety analysis (PSA).

- In Indonesia, a UNDP sectoral support mission was fielded to collect data for assessing the current status and future plans for the Government's nuclear power programme. The mission confirmed to the Government that a sound basis exists for considering the nuclear power option as the feasibility study has suggested that nuclear power is economically competitive with other sources of energy under the conditions present in the country. A framework is now being established for an independent regulatory body to oversee nuclear safety.

- In Pakistan, TC support focuses on the Chasma and Karachi NPP safety. Four workshops on various safety aspects of Chasma NPP were conducted. Several engineers were trained in various aspects of NPP safety design and operation. The ongoing project in Karachi to maintain an acceptable level of safety during the remaining operating lifetime, and its possible extension, has been upgraded to a Model Project for 1997.

66. Human health is a priority sector in nearly all recipient Member States. Twenty-three projects were operational in the region. In Thailand, the National Health Institute (NHI) established a plan to conduct a country wide screening programme on neonatal hypothyroid syndrome under project THA/6/029 - Extension of Neonatal Screening to Rural Areas. Neonatal hypothyroidism is a common disease, especially in the northeast. During 1996, an important step towards a self-sufficient screening programme - production of reagents by bioreactor - was achieved with the Agency's assistance. NHI plans to screen all babies (400,000 births per year) by the year 2000, for which one million domestically produced screening kits are needed every year. In the spirit of TCDC, Pakistan has offered nuclear medicine and radiotherapy facilities for regional training, and has also proposed to accommodate post-graduate training in nuclear medicine and radiotherapy. In Vietnam, a project on radiation sterilization of medical products has received strong support from the Government, which approved more than US $1 million to establish an irradiation centre.

67. Food security is a dominant theme in the region. In Pakistan, cotton and rice are the major hard currency earning crops. For the last several years, cotton has been severely damaged by leaf curl virus and pink bollworm. The Nuclear Institute of Agriculture and Biology and the National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE) are responsible for activities under the project PAK/5/033 - "Development of Leaf Curl Tolerant Varieties of Cotton". Initial results have attracted additional funds from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) in Amsterdam. The experience gained by Pakistan on the utilization of the saline land and saline water inspired the interregional TC project "Saline Groundwater and Wastelands for Plant Production" (INT/5/144) .

68. In China, under project CPR/5/010 - Induced Mutations for Improvement of Rice, eight early mutant and three hybrid rice varieties were extended in six provinces with a total planting area of a million hectares. The production of rice increased by 380,000 metric tons and its value to farmers of this increase was estimated at over US $50 million.

69. In Indonesia, only 10 % of the land is available for pasture, yet animal production is a major source of protein. A project to investigate feed supplementation for increasing livestock production (INS/5/023) has successfully demonstrated the use of a simple nutrient block feed supplement for cattle and goats. A total of 2,674 farmers have participated in four demonstrations covering three provinces. Cumulative results of the field trials indicate that urea molasses multi-nutrient block (UMMB) supplementation could increase growth rates in livestock and thus income to farmers by as much as 200%. Thirty small dairy farms averaging two head of cattle in 1991 had increased ownership to seven head by 1996. These results were critical to the formulation of RAS/5/030, referred to in paragraph 56.

70. A Reserve Fund project entitled "Radiological Aspects of the Rehabilitation of Bikini Atoll" supported an independent review of a report prepared by international experts. The report of the International Advisory Group, which made an independent assessment of the radiological conditions on Bikini Atoll and the prospects for its resettlement, was presented to the President of the Marshall Islands. As a result, a project request for the 1997-98 cycle was formulated to assess radiologically acceptable conditions for the reoccupation of Bikini Atoll by implementing post-remediation monitoring of local foodstuffs and the environment.

4. West Asia

OVERVIEW

71. Two missions were fielded during 1996 aimed at expanding the CPF process in the region. Discussions with the United Arab Emirates and Yemen improved mutual understanding of their key requirements and the Agency's role in meeting them. Closer contacts were maintained with all national counterparts during the year. Visits of counterparts from Iran, Iraq, Kazakstan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria to Vienna facilitated discussions and consultations on their ongoing and future programmes. This included clarification of objectives, work plans and resource estimates to assess quality in new project requests at the appraisal and finalization stages. Special attention was paid to proposals which had the potential of meeting the Model Project criteria. As a result, three projects from West Asia were approved as Model Projects for the 1997-98 programme cycle: IRA/9/015 - Regulatory Infrastructure for Licensing of Bushehr NPP, KAZ/3/002 - Modern Technologies for In-Situ Leaching Uranium Mining and SYR/4/007 - Cyclotron Facility for Medical Radioisotopes.

72. The flexibility offered by the Regional Project on Manpower Development and Nuclear Technology Support continued to be an effective means of responding to unexpected or urgent needs for training and expert advice. This mechanism was also useful for addressing problems associated with the sustained use of facilities, some of which were provided under earlier projects. The use of training opportunities and the provision of experts from within the region were given priority consideration wherever possible.

73. Several regional projects were further consolidated during the year in view of growing interest and a marked increase in the number of participating countries in priority activities. Special efforts were made through expert missions and training to enhance the technical capabilities of late entrants in the regional projects. Increased interest was reflected in the readiness of more Member States to host such events. The participation of Member States in the regional activities was assessed on the basis of their specific interest and capacity to benefit.

REGIONAL ACTIVITIES

74. Continued progress was made in the Regional Project "Water Balance and Fertigation for Crop Improvement" (RAW/5/002) for conditions prevalent in arid and semi-arid zones. A co-ordination meeting held in Amman, Jordan, in November 1996 reviewed the data collected in the participant countries on yields of tomatoes, pepper, cotton, cucumber and lettuce under different experimental conditions. The results were analysed for water use efficiency and N-fertilizer recovery under drip irrigation. Increases in crop yield up to 85% were realized, depending on the nature of the crop and on the rate of N-fertilizer application. Further consolidation of the work will be carried out through expert missions and training activities under field conditions.

75. The number of participating countries in the Regional Model Project Support for Rinderpest Surveillance in West Asia (RAW/5/004) increased from seven to eleven during the year. Expert advice, equipment and kits were supplied to Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Yemen. As a result, it was possible to initiate or maintain a programme of properly conducted sero-monitoring and surveillance exercises in all these countries except Uzbekistan. Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, are expected to reach the stage of making provisional declarations of freedom from rinderpest within the next year.

76. The main objective of the Regional Project "Screening of Newborns for Thyroid Deficiency" was to introduce inexpensive bulk reagent based RIA/IRMA assays for the thyroid related hormones thyroxine (T4) and thyrotrophin (TSH). Nine Member States from the West Asia Region received technical assistance under this project. Since bulk reagent based methodology for the blood spot assays of T4 and TSH had been successfully transferred by means of a regional training course, emphasis was shifted in 1996 to introducing techniques for the local production of some of these primary reagents. A regional workshop held in Damascus trained participants from six countries in the preparation of solid phases, standards and quality control material and tracers. This should result in a significant reduction in the cost of hormone assays in the participating countries. Close monitoring was maintained to ensure that the techniques had been well assimilated, that the locally prepared materials were of comparable standards to the imported reagents and that the assays utilizing them were suitably validated. The success criterion for the project is the establishment of central laboratories in each of the participating Member States, with the capability to promote screening activities, eventually to a full national scale. This capability has been reached in Jordan and Syria.

77. The nine Member States participating in the Regional Project "Maintenance and Quality Control of Nuclear Medicine Equipment" (RAW/6/005) benefited from two regional training workshops: one held in Tehran on Upgrading of Analogue Gamma Cameras with IBM PCs and Relevant Clinical Software, and the other on the Quality Control of Gamma Cameras, held in Beirut. The provision of advanced test phantoms and radiation sources for quality control of gamma cameras and of single-photon-emission computerized tomography (SPECT) systems contributed to the improved utilization in selected nuclear medicine centres in the Region. The next step is to upgrade facilities with PC/gamma camera interface cards and relevant clinical software.

78. The regional project "Isotope Hydrology Techniques in Water Resource Management" (RAW/8/002), which is addressing various aspects of groundwater resources in this water-scarce region, continued to progress. Isotope field investigations of ten different aquifer systems focus on groundwater pollution, water salinization and artificial recharge of groundwater.

79. The second research and training activity investigating the rise in the Caspian Sea was carried out during August and September, under the Regional Project "Preparing Study of Caspian Sea Water Level Fluctuations". It combined training with oceanographic field work on board a research vessel and was attended by ten scientists from the five Caspian Sea riparian countries: Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakstan, Russian Federation and Turkmenistan. Preliminary water samples and other data analysis indicate that changes in the hydroclimatic conditions in the catchment area appeared to be the major cause of the rising sea level. Upon completion, recommendations will be made to the five countries for follow-up actions.

80. The activities under the Radiation Protection Infrastructure in West Asia project (RAW/9/003) attracted the widest participation from the Member States. Participants from Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Yemen took part in one or more of the three training workshops. The three workshops covered topics relating to radiation protection infrastructure, radiation protection and quality assurance in diagnostic radiology and emergency planning, accident assessment and response to nuclear and radiological accidents. The interregional Model Project INT/9/143 - Upgrading Radiation Protection Infrastructure, complements national and regional efforts by focusing on national action plans aimed at bringing infrastructure to a level commensurate with actual or intended use of nuclear techniques. Lebanon, Kazakstan, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and Yemen have already endorsed their action plans.

HIGHLIGHTS OF NATIONAL PROGRAMMES

81. Nuclear Power is a priority for two Member States in West Asia, Iran and Kazakstan. The Agency provided assistance to the NPP Department of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran through expert missions and training to enhance its operational capabilities. These included project organization and management, technical specification of the plant, quality assurance and safety aspects of the conceptual design. In Kazakstan, discussions began on possible decommissioning of Aktau NPP with the objective of identifying nuclear safety and waste management requirements.

82. The Miniature Neutron Source Reactor in Syria was commissioned and started operation. In addition to establishing the groundwork for the future implementation of a research reactor programme, this facility will enable Syria to carry out work on neutron activation analysis and the production of short-lived isotopes for industrial and environmental analysis. The preparations for the restart of the research reactor at Aktau, Kazakstan were supported through expert advice and training of personnel. This assistance will enable the country to make a decision on the resumption of reactor operation in accordance with international safety standards.

83. The region's use of nuclear techniques in industrial applications also progressed. In Iran, the areas of interest were uranium prospecting, initiating practical steps for the introduction of EB technology for industrial products, and local production of radiotracers for quality control and monitoring in industry. Following a demonstration phase on gamma sterilization in industrial applications, Jordan is now ready to commence sterilization on a commercial scale, with a larger irradiation facility being set up under Agency project "Cobalt-60 Irradiation Facility (Phase II)" (JOR/7/002). Preparations for a semi-industrial pilot plant for the removal of uranium from endogenously produced triple super phosphate continued at Homs, Syria under a UNDP financed project.

84. Technical support was provided to Kazakstan for upgrading the neutron activation analysis (NAA) laboratory and improving national analytical capabilities for environmental and other measurements. This laboratory contributed towards the recent radiological assessment of the Semipalatinsk area described in paragraph 87 of this report. Assistance was also provided to the Laboratory for ion implantation of metals in Kazakstan to set up facilities for the development of special heat and radiation resistant materials at the National Nuclear Centre. With Agency support, the recently created National Atomic Energy Centre in Beirut, Lebanon has set up an X-ray fluorescence facility and an atomic absorption spectrometer to enhance its capabilities for the analysis of diverse materials.

85. The capability for producing RIA/IRMA medical kits was established in Iran during the year. Agency technical support provided to King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, helped to upgrade the technology necessary for the production of radioisotope iodine-123 through the use of xenon-124 as the target material. A feasibility study on establishing a cyclotron facility in Syria to produce radioisotopes for medical use was completed, and national authorities have decided to proceed with its establishment. The main cyclotron equipment will be procured through national resources, and the Agency will provide technical advice, training and equipment for associated facilities. In the United Arab Emirates, the provision of expert advice in pediatric nuclear medicine, nuclear nephrology, SPECT control for dynamic renal studies and nuclear cardiology resulted in an improvement in the quality of the diagnostic services in Dubai hospital, which performs 15-20 patient studies each day. Expert advice was also made available for the planning of new services and activities in this field, in particular on the feasibility of setting up the cyclotron facility for PET studies.

86. Crop damage due to medfly infestation is a growing problem for some countries. With support from the Agency, an entomology laboratory at the Institute of Agronomic Research near Beirut, Lebanon has been converted into a pilot scale facility for the mass rearing of medflies. Flies will be irradiated using an Agency-installed Co-60 source and will provide field data for an integrated control programme using SIT. The economic and environmental impact of integrated medfly control using SIT was positively assessed during an evaluation study completed during the year. Technical and economic feasibility studies were completed in Syria for the application of SIT for the control and eradication of coddling moth in apple growing areas. Further work on an integrated approach to this problem will be examined by the national authorities.

87. In addition to assistance provided through regional and interregional activities in radiation protection, some national projects were also implemented during the year to address specific problems in Member States. A radiological assessment of the Semipalatinsk area, the former site for atomic tests in Kazakstan, was completed with financial support from the United States. An Agency report on the radiological conditions in the area analyzed the radiation doses to the local population around the test site. Progress was also made in radiation and waste safety programmes relating to occupational radiation protection of industrial workers and the radiation protection of the general public. A personnel dosimetry system supplied by the Agency was put into operation at a state enterprise in Ust-Kamenogorsk, where 700 radiation workers are engaged in the production of nuclear fuel.

5. Europe

OVERVIEW

88. In line with the "fewer but better" strategy, efforts were made to close projects that had achieved their objectives: 57 projects were completed and about 30 projects were carried over into the 1997-98 cycle. Member States also co-operated by reducing the number of project requests, however, the value of these requests amounted to over US$ 59 million. It was only possible to include half of this amount in the total core programme for 1997-98.

89. Several CPF missions were undertaken to focus the corresponding country programmes and plan future activities. Special efforts were made to study "sectoral" areas of common interest in the region such as human health and the application of radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. Several related national and regional projects were formulated on the basis of in-house discussions and expert missions. Another sectoral area was "nuclear safety legislative and regulatory infrastructure" which was the subject of extensive discussions, missions and regional workshops.

90. Member States participated in the planning, formulation and programming of Europe's regional projects through four meetings. At the third meeting, during the 40th General Conference, representatives of all Member States in the region had the opportunity to review and agree with the proposed 1997-98 regional programme, consisting of 17 new projects. Extensive collaboration also took place with the Agency's respective technical divisions during the preparation of the programme. Regional activities comprise 33% of the TC programme in Europe.

91. The number of end-user focused projects in the new programme increased considerably: 23% of approved projects for 1997-98 were proposed as Model Projects. Nine Model Projects were approved as part of the 1997-98 programme compared to three projects during the previous cycle.

REGIONAL ACTIVITIES

92. Safety of nuclear installations remained the highest priority and this is reflected in the regional activities. The reliance of countries on electricity produced by nuclear power plants (NPPs) is very high. Therefore, the continuous safe operation of NPPs constructed to earlier safety standards is a major social and economic concern. Consequently, the Agency has established close constructive co-operation with the organizations involved in nuclear safety programmes.

93. Safety issues were addressed particularly under RER/9/035 "Support for Nuclear Safety in Central and Eastern Europe. Major safety concerns were identified and ranked according to their impact on plant safety and then used to review the completeness and adequacy of safety improvement measures implemented in various countries operating WWERs. The project also assisted Member States in strengthening their national capabilities for safety assessment of NPPs and in facilitating technical exchange. Activities focused on the preparation of guidelines, peer reviews and assistance in evaluation of plant specific safety improvements. The project also supported a large number of safety review missions to the countries operating NPPs. Such mission types included ASSET, OSART, INSARR, ASCOT and seismic and site reviews.

94. The Model Project INT/9/143 - Upgrading Radiation Protection Infrastructure, which includes eleven countries in Europe, entered its operational phase with a detailed assessment of radiation and waste safety infrastructure for each of them. Action plans were agreed by all the countries and implementation is well under way in most of them.

95. Agreement was reached with the International Group of Legal Experts (ILG) to co-operate closely in assisting the Newly Independent States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union in establishing a legal framework and infrastructure for the utilization of nuclear energy and for their international nuclear related obligations. The ILG was established in 1995 as an independent group drawn from four countries and two organizations with expertise in nuclear legislation.1 Through this joint ILG-TC programme, it is now possible to assist the NIS in establishing comprehensive, harmonized and up-to-date systems of nuclear law in co-ordination with donor countries. At the end of 1996, the joint programme was active in eight countries - Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, and Ukraine. This agreement enables close co-ordination between the ILG's work, donor programmes and Agency TC programmes in legislative assistance, and nuclear and radiation safety. These activities are fully co-ordinated with those of INT/9/143 and other nuclear safety related Agency projects.

HIGHLIGHTS OF NATIONAL PROGRAMMES

96. Three Model Projects were operational during this year with the following milestone reached:

- In Hungary, the Maintenance Training Centre (MTC) at Paks was completed, and a Systematic Approach to Training (SAT) programme was developed along with the necessary manuals and materials under the Model Project HUN/9/019. The MTC at Paks is the first of its kind to provide training for plant personnel in a full scale WWER simulator.

- In Poland, the basic engineering design for the Pomorzany Electron Bean (EB) plant was completed and reviewed by international experts under Model Project POL/8/014, transferring EB technology for flue gas purification. Close monitoring of the project was performed by a project steering committee with the help of Japanese, German and Polish experts. Japan has provided a considerable portion of the extrabudgetary resources needed for the implementation of the project, including an additional US $700,000 in 1996.

- The Model Project to strengthen capabilities of the Slovak Nuclear Regulatory Authority (SNRA) SLR/9/005 is nearing completion as trained personnel have taken up their responsibilities and are being used by the IAEA to support similar activities in the Region. A peer review of SNRA is scheduled for 1997 before completion of the project.

97. The first Technical Co-operation mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina visited Sarajevo in April, four months after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accord. Four national projects, including two Model Projects, focus on the immediate problems of health care and industrial and civil post-war reconstruction. A particularly important component of the country programme was participation in INT/9/143. A Reserve Fund project was opened to reestablish nuclear medicine services at two centres in Sarajevo and Tuzla, and IAEA contracted engineers to service and repair equipment and supervise the re-commissioning of modern gamma cameras which had been stored during the war. Additionally, the Agency was able to organize regular shipments of radiopharmaceuticals and other reagents to both centres.

98. In April, a mission to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia assisted ministries and national institutions in focusing their requests for technical co-operation within the 1997-98 TC Programme as part of the CPF process. This resulted in a Model Project on non-destructive testing, as well as some smaller projects supporting nuclear medicine, radiotherapy, livestock and agriculture.

99. In Romania, the focus was on nuclear power. Unit 1 of Cernavoda NPP reached criticality in April and achieved full power in October. The successful commissioning of the plant reflected not only the efforts of RENEL but also the capabilities of the Romanian regulatory authority CNCAN. Both organizations have received continuing TC support in building up their infrastructure and an intensive training programme to meet international standards. These efforts contributed to the successful commissioning and connection to the grid of Cernavoda Unit 1. Another important highlight in Romania was the completion of a preliminary decommissioning plan for the Soviet-designed WWR-S research reactor operating since 1957 at the Institute of Nuclear Physics and Engineering (INPE).

100. Extensive safety related assistance continued in Armenia as Unit 2 of their NPP went on line late in 1995. In April 1993, the Armenian government decided to start the assessment and preparatory work for the recommissioning of Unit 2, after the two WWER-440/model 230 units were shut down following the Spitak earthquake in 1988. Although the plant did not suffer any damage, the plant's location in a high seismicity region had raised continuing concerns.

101. Two Seismic Safety Review Missions (SSRM) were conducted to Armenia in 1996. The missions examined three important aspects before a decision to restart plant operation could begin: (i) verify the geological stability of the site; (ii) determine the severity of the seismic ground motion at the site; and (iii) develop a programme for the re-evaluation of the seismic capacity of buildings, with data, methods and criteria recognized in international practice. An independent calculation of the seismic response and floor response spectra for the reactor building was performed by Bulgarian experts. This can be used for comparison of the same parameters with those from the original design or the calculations being performed by the designer for the newly defined Review Level Earthquake. The work itself meets with international standards and is an excellent example of TCDC in the region. A seismic monitoring system was delivered to plant management.

102. A Protocol between Armenia and Turkey under IAEA auspices has been prepared with regard to seismic studies and emergency planning in connection with the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant located near the Turkish border. This project would include education and training related to seismic studies and emergency planning.

103. About 30% of the power production in Bulgaria depends on the combustion of domestic lignite with high humidity and high sulphur content in power plants in the Maritsa region. This produces substantial sulphur and nitrogen oxides, which pollute large areas of the region. Pursuant to the 1991 "Environmental Protection Law," Bulgarian authorities have initiated steps to study and to introduce suitable flue gas cleaning processes, including the EB process. The Agency, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment has completed several feasibility studies with national experts in 1996. Experts from Bulgaria, Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI), Ebara Environmental Corporation (Japan) and the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (FzK, Germany) performed a number of studies on Bulgarian conditions, including laboratory experiments and pilot studies for high sulphur and humidity content of flue gas, and basic design work on both pilot and industrial plants for flue gas cleaning at Maritsa-East. The studies demonstrated that under the conditions typical for Bulgarian power plants such as Maritsa-East, SO2 and NOx removals of more than 85% could be achieved with moderate irradiation doses (5 kGy) and that the electron beam process was more cost effective than established conventional technologies such as the lime-stone scrubber or the Wellman-Lord process.

6. Interregional

OVERVIEW

104. Interregional activities carried out in 1996 were generally of three types:

a) activities of a continuous nature needed to support the country programme, such as training courses, project review missions and co-operation with other international organizations, such as the International Science Programme (ISP) and the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Italy;

b) activities to focus the programme and to improve its quality. These include developing Country Programme Frameworks, strengthening Technical Co-operation between Developing Countries (TCDC) and identifying Model Projects;

c) formulation and design activities for interregional projects relevant to many countries in all geographic regions.

105. The Agency serves on the Board of the ISP at the Uppsala University, Sweden, which assists in enhancing scientific and research capacity in developing countries through the exchange of scientists, post-graduate education in physics/chemistry and provision of equipment. In many cases ISP works with TC project counterparts. Co-operation activities with ISP continued in the area of fellowship training through a "sandwich programme", in which Agency fellows receive advanced training both in their home countries and in Sweden under the supervision of the ISP. Furthermore, ISP is assisting the Agency in implementing certain project activities in Tanzania (assessment of environmental pollution from gold and iron mining), Kenya and Thailand. Similarly the ICTP - Office of External Activities (ICTP - OEA) is assisting the Agency with the implementation of projects in the Territories under the Jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority in accordance with the 1994 General Conference decision (GC/XXXII/DEC/18). The Agency chairs the ICTP Committee on External Activities.

HIGHLIGHTS

106. Nineteen interregional training courses were conducted on subjects of interest to a large number of developing countries. Nine were devoted to nuclear power and safety, including issues such as electricity demand forecasting for nuclear power planning, nuclear power project management, operational safety of nuclear reactors and interim storage of spent fuel. Ten courses were devoted to the application of isotopes and radiation techniques in agriculture and nuclear medicine, and to experimental nuclear spectroscopy and nuclear electronics. A total of 441 specialists from developing countries participated in these courses.

107. The most important interregional activity in 1996, the Model Project on Upgrading Radiation Protection Infrastructure (INT/9/143) continued to make progress towards the goal of all 52 participating Member States attaining the BSS by 2000. These activities were reviewed in the Regional Highlights. Efforts were made to sensitize national authorities in the participating Member States on the need to increase their commitment towards radiation safety and to provide adequate resources to the implementation of country specific action plans. Priorities identified in most action plans include: (i) the establishment of a legal and regulatory framework; (ii) the development of a notification, registration and/or authorization system; (iii) personnel and environmental monitoring; (iv) quality assurance in medical applications; and (v) the establishment of a radioactive source registry. Provision of Agency inputs in terms of expert services, training and supply of equipment was initiated for those countries that endorsed their action plan.

108. The proposed workplan was adjusted based upon findings from missions carried out by regional field managers in most of the 52 participating countries. These adjustments were made in consultation with the counterparts, and the budget allocations were redefined accordingly. Adjustments were made mainly in the training programme due to the fact that nominations for training were not being received as scheduled. Some participating countries are still in the process of recruiting staff for the proposed training activities.

109. To expedite implementation, the Department of Technical Co-operation posted four Regional Field Managers, who operate from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the Africa region; Beirut, Lebanon for the countries in the East and West Asian regions; San José, Costa Rica for the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean; and Bratislava, Slovakia for the Europe region.

110. A new Model Project - Sustainable Technologies for Managing Radioactive Waste (INT/4/131), to help developing Member States manage wastes from their nuclear applications began implementation in 1997. Spent radioactive sources and other radioactive materials demand careful handling and storage after they are removed from service and declared to be waste. The technical capability to process and store these wastes is therefore essential to fulfil requirements for safety and radiation protection. The project was conceived during 1996 as an umbrella which will eventually cover all aspects of waste technology, in keeping with the need to have fewer but better TC projects aligned under comprehensive themes. Novel aspects of the project include an action team to condition radium-226 sources for proper storage in countries lacking the sufficient means to conduct this work on their own, and hands-on training for waste operators, in which actual waste is processed and conditioned for storage. It is, therefore, a complementary activity to Model Project INT/9/143 - Upgrading Radiation Protection Infrastructure - in those countries which have progressed sufficiently for its implementation.

111. Agricultural systems are severely hampered where fresh water is not available and where soils are salt affected. Salinity of soil and groundwater is a worldwide phenomenon, but more serious in the arid and semi-arid regions of the northern sub-tropics. After initial discussions with eight Member States (Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria, and Tunisia) on soil and water problems, and the role of nuclear techniques in solving them, a thematic approach was initiated. Discussions were held with counterparts and possible pilot sites on about 10 hectares of wasteland where the groundwater is saline were identified. After commitment was conveyed by the eight prospective countries, a pre-project workshop was held in Pakistan in October 1996 to discuss the overall workplan and to work out individual country workplans to be implemented under a new interregional Model Project INT/5/144 - Saline Groundwater and Wastelands for Plant Production.
1 The ILG consists of legal experts from Australia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and OECD/NEA and the IAEA. In addition to the expertise, Sweden and the Netherlands have made cash contributions to the programme.
 
Preface | Foreword | Highlights | Technical Co-operation Report for 1996 | Elements of the Technical Co-operation Strategy | Regional Highlights | TCDC | Evaluation | Resources and Delivery | Implementation Summaries | Abbreviations | Glossary