Director General Meets African Union Officials

Cooperating to Improve Food Security and Cancer Control

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano met Dr. Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, during his official trip to Ethiopia, 12 November 2012. (Photo: C. Brady/IAEA)

On 12 November 2012, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano began a two-day official trip to Ethiopia by attending the opening session of the Second Conference of States Parties to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty , often called the Treaty of Pelindaba and meeting African Union senior officials.

In his address to the Conference of States Parties, the Director General complimented the countries of Africa for successfully establishing this important nuclear-weapon-free zone, which has made "a major contribution to achieving the goal, which we all share, of one day establishing a world free of all nuclear weapons."

The Director General also noted that the Treaty of Pelindaba encourages its States Parties to promote the use of nuclear science and technology for economic and social development and to make use of the IAEA's assistance. The IAEA's Technical Cooperation Programme has helped African nations utilize nuclear applications to increase food production in dozens of countries, helped to eliminate the deadly cattle disease rinderpest and to tackle outbreaks of food-and-mouth disease.

The IAEA also helps many countries to find new sources of water, using nuclear techniques, and to manage water resources more effectively. In 2012, the IAEA started a five-year project with 13 countries in the Sahel region to improve water resources management, which is needed to address the humanitarian crisis caused by the region's resistant droughts.

In developing countries, cancer rates are increasing swiftly, yet hundreds of thousands of people do not have access to the treatment that could save their lives. The Agency supports over 130 projects in cancer diagnosis, management and treatment. Oncology and radiotherapy centres are being established with the IAEA's support in countries such as Eritrea and Mozambique and provides extensive training to health professionals. The Director General said that "one of my major goals is to establish a Cancer Training Centre at the IAEA's laboratory complex near Vienna within the next few years."

The full text of his address is available here.

During the first day of his visit, the Director General met Dr. Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, and Ramtane Lamamra, Commissioner for Peace and Security. They discussed the IAEA's support for the use of nuclear techniques in developing countries, especially in Africa, to fight cancer, as well as to improve human health, food security and safety, water management and agriculture.

For instance, the African Union and the IAEA cooperate closely to eradicate the tsetse fly. The insect transmits the deadly disease trypanosomosis to human beings and domestic animals, killing millions of animals throughout the world every year. Chairperson Zuma noted the importance of the joint project with the IAEA to use a nuclear technique, the "Sterile Insect Technique", to supress tsetse fly populations. This strategy will help reduce trypanosomosis' terrible impact on human and animal health, agricultural production and food security, and on local and national economies throughout large parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

In Ethiopia, the IAEA has been working with the Ethiopian Government and regional partners to establish tsetse fly-free zones in selected areas. Tsetse flies have been successfully eradicated from Zanzibar using this technique. It is now being deployed in the Southern Rift Valley in Ethiopia. Chairperson Zuma stressed the need to bring greater attention to efforts to eradicate tsetse flies through the sterile insect technique.

Through the former Organisation of African Unity, and its successor, the African Union, the Pan-African Tsetse and Trypanosomosis Eradication Campaign(AU-PATTEC), has sought since 2000 to free the African continent from the tsetse and trypanosomosis problem. The IAEA has been providing support to this initiative since its inception.

Last update: 2 November 2014