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Promoting Technical Cooperation: How IAEA Fellowships are Supporting the work of Sierra Leone’s Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Authority

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John Jabati (left) and Derrick Dunn (right) have both benefited from IAEA fellowships, and now hold important positions in Sierra Leone’s Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Authority. (Photo: N. Jarvis/IAEA)

The IAEA organizes fellowships, awarded through the TC programme, to provide young professionals and university graduates with an opportunity to develop hands-on experience, benefit from training courses or achieve academic accreditation related to the application of nuclear technologies. A core component of technical cooperation projects since the establishment of the programme, the IAEA has awarded nearly 40,000 fellowships since 1956. This year, two IAEA fellows, who underwent post-graduate training, have been appointed to senior positions in the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Authority (NSRPA) of Sierra Leone. The NSRPA is the national regulatory body of Sierra Leone and manages the National Liaison Office, under the Ministry of Energy, which works closely alongside the IAEA to implement the TC programme.

John Jabati, the IAEA National Liaison Officer and AFRA National Coordinator for Sierra Leone, was recently appointed to the position of Executive Secretary and Head of the NSRPA. Mr Jabati was first employed by the NSRPA in 2006 as a Radiation Protection Officer after graduating with a masters’ degree in Physics at the University of Sierra Leone. In 2007, he was trained under the IAEA-supported Post Graduate Educational Course in Radiation Protection and the Safety of Radiation Sources (PGEC) in South Africa. In 2011, Mr Jabati was selected for the two-year masters’ degree in Nuclear Science and Technology under the AFRA Programme, implemented by the Ghana School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS).

“The PGEC and master’s degree in which I participated gave me the relevant skills and knowledge that was needed for me to effectively perform my regulatory function. My knowledge grew in this field with time as I participated in various national and international events. Hence, our authorities deemed it fit to appoint me as head of NSRPA,” said Mr Jabati, who was officially appointed as NSRPA head in January 2018.

One of the challenges we face is insufficient trained human resources in the area of nuclear science and technology. We have taken some positive steps, but more needs to be done.
John Jabati, Head of the National Safety and Radiation Protection Authority

The headquarters of the Ministry of Energy of Sierra Leone, to which the NSRPA reports. (Photo: Ministry of Energy) 

Derrick Dunn, the IAEA National Liaison Assistant, is the head of the Research and Planning Department of the NSRPA. Mr Dunn was employed by the NSRPA in 2011 as a Radiation Protection Officer after completing the PGEC offered in Ghana. Thereafter, he was selected for participation in AFRA Masters’ degree in Nuclear Science and Technology, also at the SNAS in Accra, which he completed in 2017.

“As part of my responsibilities to provide training for users of ionizing radiation, I have used knowledge gained during the PGEC to draw up a training programme for industrial radiographers, radiation safety officers and users of nuclear gauges and X ray analysis equipment,” said Mr Dunn.

Messrs Jabati and Dunn, the first two fellows from Sierra Leone to be selected thus far for the AFRA Masters’ degree, are facilitating the management and implementation of the IAEA technical cooperation programme in Sierra Leone, which focuses largely on areas related to human health and food and agriculture.

“With an upsurge in the use of nuclear technology in various fields,” explains Mr Dunn, “the need for adequately trained personnel continues to pose a challenge and is of major concern to the Government of Sierra Leone.”

“One of the challenges we face is insufficient trained human resources in the area of nuclear science and technology. We have taken some positive steps, but more needs to be done. More people need to participate in technical cooperation programmes to help address diverse developmental challenges of priority for the government,” added Mr Jabati.

Sierra Leone is a Least Developed Country (LDC). With the support of the National Liaison Office, the IAEA TC programme is playing an important role in addressing a broad variety of issues, including preventing the spread of zoonotic diseases and enhancing access to cancer therapy and treatment. As human resources capacity building is a cornerstone of the TC programme, the utilisation by the NSRPA of the new capacities developed by Messrs. Jabati and Dunn demonstrates the relevance of TC fellowships and their value to Sierra Leone and other IAEA Member States in the region.

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