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One IAEA Workshop Boosts Several African Countries' Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Preparedness

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IAEA-trained experts are holding a workshop on emergency preparedness in case of a nuclear or radiological emergency in Kenya. (Photo: B. Kaboro)

Over 300 professionals across Africa are now prepared to respond to a nuclear or radiological emergency. It all began with an IAEA train-the-trainers workshop in May 2015.

The participants of that workshop in Khartoum, Sudan have organized trainings in their countries, significantly boosting several African countries’ readiness for such events, said Elena Buglova, Head of the IAEA’s Incident and Emergency Centre.

“Thanks to the training, participants have acquired the tools to prepare and conduct their own national programmes and this has resulted in enhanced regional response capabilities in case of an emergency,” said Nahla Sulieman Fadlalla, Regulatory Officer at the Sudanese Nuclear Regulatory Authority.

Government officials, radiation protection officers, technical experts and firefighters from 20 African countries took part in the workshop.

For Sudan, the training “had a significant impact on enhancing decision-makers’ understanding of the importance of effective coordination between relevant stakeholders and the country’s emergency prevention and response infrastructure,” said Fadlalla.

Since the workshop, participants have held 11 national courses in which more than 300 people were trained in emergency preparedness for first responders – the professionals who will carry out initial response to a nuclear or radiological emergency.  Topics covered in the national courses ranged from response operations and the assessment of radiological hazards to public communication in an emergency and lessons learned from past radiological emergencies.

Benardette Chege, Radiation Protection Officer with the Kenya Radiation Protection Board, who took part in a national course in October 2016 in Kenya, said she particularly appreciated the interactive format of the course.

“The practical exercises and discussions helped us realize the importance of all stakeholders from the various first responders departments,” she said. “These exercises highlighted that proper coordination by all first responders will ensure a successful mission in saving lives during an incident.”

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