Science Serving People

In Bangladesh, millions of villagers are threatened with arsenic-contaminated drinking water which causes cancer. This woman and child are getting safe water from a deep well. (Credit: D. Kinley/IAEA)

A new booklet — Science Serving People — features stories about how IAEA-supported projects are making a difference in many poorer countries. The stories describe applications of nuclear science and technology that are being used through technical cooperation channels to overcome challenges of water scarcity, food shortage, malnutrition, malaria, environmental degradation and many other problems. They also illustrate how the complementary development, safety, and security initiatives of the IAEA are fostering atoms for peace in the developing world.

"Extreme poverty and deprivation remain a problem of monumental proportions at the dawn of the 21st century," notes IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei in the booklet's Introduction. Through effective partnerships, collaborative research, and strategic direction, the IAEA is contributing to global efforts to help the poor. IAEA programmes have entered an important phase, he said, in which "scientific contributions to Member States are yielding very sizeable human benefits."

It's clear that science and technology must be better mobilized to meet the needs of the poor, emphasizes Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, USA, and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. "The UN agencies, such as the IAEA, have a great role to play," he says in the booklet's Foreword. This is especially so, he points out, "if they act as a bridge between the activities of advanced-country and developing-country scientific centres, and if they help to harness the advances of world science for the poor as well as the rich." The bottom line, he concludes, is that rich countries should expand support for those United Nations organizations that can help in solving the unique problems confronting the world's poorest peoples.

The booklet features stories on managing water resources, promoting food security, focusing science on health problems, new tools for environmental management, and strengthening nuclear safety and security. Copies are available from the IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation. Stories also are featured on line through the Agency's WorldAtom web site.

Last update: 12 November 2014