IAEA Technical Co-operation Activities in the 1990s

Current Trends

The transfer of technology is central to efforts to increase the quality of life in developing countries. But technical co-operation that leads to social and economic benefits on a national scale does not result automatically from the training of personnel in a specific technique or the donation of equipment or even the input of capital. Over the years there has been growing understanding of the conditions that must be met to ensure effective technology transfer and of the way in which international action can support this process.

The IAEA's technical co-operation programme has an excellent record of achievements over the last three and a half decades. During this period efforts have focused on strengthening the infrastructure and capacity in nuclear technology in the recipient countries. This objective has, in general, been met. In many countries the infrastructure is in place, technologies are now available, and research programmes are being planned and conducted by local experts.


AFRA - The African Regional Co-operative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology entered into force in 1990. There are 19 parties to the agreement.

ARCAL - The Regional Co-operative Arrangements for the Promotion of Nuclear Science and Technology in Latin America entered into force in 1984. There are 18 parties to the agreement.

RCA - The Regional Co-operative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (for the Asia and Pacific region) entered into force in 1972. There are 17 parties to the agreement.

Argentina Fruit fly eradication in the South region
Bangladesh Biofertilizers for increased legume production
China Production of gel 99Tcm generators for nuclear medicine
Industrial scale irradiation of rice and other foodstuffs
El Salvador Isotope hydrology and geochemistry in geothermal fields
Ghana National radiotherapy and nuclear medicine network
Hungary Strengthening training for operational safety at the Paks nuclear power plant
Mali Field performance of selected mutants of sorghum and rice
Mexico National programme of training in medical physics
Mongolia Upgrading radiation therapy services
Peru Nuclear techniques to improve child nutrition
Poland Industrial scale demonstration plant for electron beam purification of flue gases
Slovak Republic Strengthening of the nuclear safety regulatory body
Sri Lanka Radiation sterilization of human tissue for transplantation
Tunisia Screening of newborns for neonatal hypothyroidism
United Republic of Tanzania Tsetse eradication on Zanzibar Island
Uruguay Early diagnosis of congenital diseases in children
Venezuela Groundwater resources in the Caracas Valley
Interregional Upgrading radiation protection and waste management infrastructures
Regional Africa Isotopes in groundwater resources development
Regional Latin America Upgrading nuclear medicine practices
Regional West Asia Support for rinderpest surveillance

The successful accomplishment of an enhanced capacity has built the foundations for the next step - "partnership in development" - under which the recipient countries spread the knowledge they have gained, apply the technologies they are now mastering and demonstrate to their potential end users the power and benefits of nuclear technology. The value of the technical co-operation programme should be seen not only in the successful transfer of technology, but also in the way that nuclear technologies satisfy demands for sustainable development by having a lasting impact, and being cost effective and environmentally sound.

To this end, the IAEA has over the past two years selected a number of projects which promise significant economic or social benefits and which will, once their success becomes visible, demonstrate the value of such projects to others. Since they show the direction in which the Agency's technical co-operation programme is moving, they are called 'model projects'. Criteria for model projects relate to the impact that should be achieved, the advantages of the nuclear techniques employed and the suitability of the activity in an environmental context:

- The project should address a high priority developmental objective.
- There should be a significant economic or social impact for identified end users.
- Nuclear technology should play an indispensable role in the project and should be competitive, or have distinct advantages over other available technologies.
- The environmental situation should be conducive to sustainable success.

The IAEA is currently re-examining its technical co-operation activities in a continuing attempt to increase the lasting effect of its programme in this area. The objective is to redirect a substantial portion of the programme towards projects which will have a major impact. Model projects serve as the guiding beacon for this new direction. Special emphasis will be given to discussions at individual country level held to reach mutual agreement on model or key projects which will form the core of future IAEA technology transfer work. The selection of these key projects will be guided not only by national considerations but also by an analysis of sectoral requirements, including the basic need in all countries to ensure the establishment of adequate radiation protection infrastructures. Further guidance on the choice of core projects will come from a study of regional requirements such as, for example, the overriding need in Africa to ensure food security.

One of the characteristics of model projects is their significant social and economic impact on end users. Because the IAEA does not have permanent field staff, it has less direct access to end users than other United Nations system organizations such as the FAO, WHO, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and UNDP. It is therefore seeking to strengthen its specific contacts with these organizations to ensure that it can, through these bodies, obtain feedback from end users and provide guidance to them. Thus, the IAEA has undertaken special co-operation with FAO in programmes related to food security in Africa, with WHO in programmes related to human health and with UNIDO in the industrialization of facilities for the rearing of sterile tsetse flies required in eradication campaigns. In terms of the size of the funds available to it in its role as a catalyst for technology transfer, the IAEA occupies a place far behind the large bilateral aid donors, and multilateral agencies such as UNDP and the World Bank. On the other hand, it possesses the very high level of technical expertise necessary to identify and test key projects which can then properly attract available funds for applications on a large scale. This is another reason for the IAEA to seek to strengthen its working ties with donor organizations so that, together with them, it can become a strong partner in development for the developing Member States.

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