The IAEA’s technical cooperation (TC) programme is the primary mechanism through which the IAEA delivers services to Member States, and the National Liaison Officer (NLO) is the principal interface between the Agency and a national authority on TC and related matters. NLOs are assigned to the role by their respective governments. NLOs are expected not only to carry out administrative tasks related to the TC programme, but also to demonstrate leadership, strategic thinking, operational management, supervision, coordination and relationship-building with a wide range of stakeholders. The NLO plays an essential role in ensuring the optimum performance of the TC programme and in enhancing the benefits derived from it by Member States.
The effective planning, formulation and management of the TC programme, and other related IAEA activities, strongly depend on the efficiency of the NLO, and therefore the IAEA organizes trainings for new and existing NLOs to provide them with the knowledge to fulfil their responsibilities. The training helps new NLOs gain an understanding of TC programme, the areas where it provides support, IAEA policies and procedures, and the range of tools used to develop, implement and evaluate TC projects. In addition, the training allows NLOs to identify and understand their role within the programme.
This December, the IAEA held a one-week induction workshop for new African NLOs, which provided a comprehensive introduction to the IAEA’s TC work and standard procedures and offered a briefing on NLO tasks. During the orientation workshop, the NLOs heard a number of presentations on the IAEA’s TC programme and its strategy, objectives and implementation mechanisms. The workshop participants were also introduced to the thematic areas in which the IAEA’s TC programme operates and the work of other IAEA Departments. One full day was dedicated to a visit to Seibersdorf laboratories, where the new NLOs were able to witness first-hand the important development work that the IAEA carries out.
“During this workshop I have gained an insight into what is expected of me as an NLO and how I am supposed to assist both the IAEA and my country as well as my counterparts for better execution of projects, submissions of reports and project design” said Nolitha Mpoza, an NLO from South Africa.
“The NLO helps Member States to manage and utilize the available IAEA support effectively. Through trainings, we wish to strengthen the NLO’s capabilities in carrying out this function, thus enhance Member States’ inputs to the planning and implementation of the TC programme,” said Thabisile Moleah, a Programme Management Officer in the Department of Technical Cooperation. “It is in our best interest that the NLO is equipped with the appropriate authority and resources to fulfil these responsibilities,” she continued.
Typically, an NLO is a high-ranking government official; she or he is responsible for the overall management of the TC activities in which the government is involved, including programming and implementation of national, regional and interregional projects. This includes the formulation of the Country Programme Framework (CPF), which stipulates a country’s mid-term development objectives and TC activities. The NLO ensures that the proposed TC activities add value to national development efforts and contribute to the IAEA’s mission. Within this capacity, the NLO communicates closely with key stakeholders, including UN organizations and the development community, donors and other partners, to ensure collaboration and continuous support for projects.
The NLOs work together with National Liaison Assistants (NLAs). NLAs provide fundamental support to the NLO for his or her role in the implementation of TC activities from the side of the Member State.