IAEA donors raise Sh570 million for global health lab

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano in a past press conference

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has today announced it is now in a position to complete construction of a second new laboratory facility in support of global health after US, Germany, Japan and Norway raised €4.7 million (Sh570 million) for the project.

In a statement to newsrooms, IAEA said the four countries announced their additional financial pledges after Director General Yukiya Amano last month informed the IAEA Board of Governors that these extra-budgetary funds were urgently required to keep construction of the Flexible Modular Laboratory (FML) on schedule.

“Japan’s announcement today of a contribution of €1 million provides for the remaining funds required to reach the €4.7 million target and ensures full funding for construction of the building,” said IAEA in the statement.

Initially responding to the funding call, the United States and Germany pledged contributions of US $3.1 million (approximately €2.6 million) and €1 million respectively on 18 September, the first day of the IAEA’s annual General Conference. Norway pledged €100 000 on 29 September. It was Norway’s second pledge in recent months after a contribution of €300 000 announced in June 2017.

The modern building will become the new home of three laboratories dealing with animal production and health, food safety, soil and water management and crop nutrition that support the joint division of the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

It is part of a wider project called ReNuAL and the follow-up ReNuAL+ to renovate and modernize all of the IAEA’s eight laboratories in Seibersdorf, Austria, that assist countries in using nuclear science and technology to achieve their development goals. Last week, the IAEA inaugurated another building in Seibersdorf, the Insect Pest Control Laboratory, also as part of the renovation initiatives.

“The modernisation of the nuclear applications laboratories is one of the most important projects ever undertaken by the Agency,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said. “The benefits will be felt by Member States for decades to come, and I thank all donors who contributed to this important effort.”

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono made the pledge during a meeting in Tokyo with Director General Amano. “I am very grateful for this important pledge by the Government of Japan, which enables the IAEA to undertake the FML construction on schedule,” Amano said.

Foreign Minister Kono expressed his government’s strong support for the Director General’s work on the IAEA’s Atoms for Peace and Development mandate.

Norway’s Foreign Minister, Børge Brende, said: “Norway is proud to support the renovation of the nuclear laboratories in Seibersdorf. The project highlights the important contribution of non-energy applications of nuclear science and technology to health and development. I thank the IAEA and Director General Amano for their dedication.”

In total, the IAEA has raised almost €32 million in extra-budgetary funds from different donors, including 31 Member States, for the nuclear application laboratories.  After the latest pledges, the IAEA has raised enough funds to complete all new construction planned under the modernization initiatives.

Located 35 kilometres south-east of Vienna, the nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf opened their doors in 1962 to provide Member States with direct access to scientific training, research and analytical services.  In 2016 alone, these laboratories trained over 330 national experts, for example on the rapid detection of animal diseases by using nuclear and nuclear-derived techniques.

Last week’s inauguration of the Insect Pest Control Laboratory marked the completion of the first new building in the modernization effort.  The Flexible Modular Laboratory, currently under construction, is expected to be completed by the end of 2018 with the new funding.

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