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Africa|Energy|Flow|Gas|Nuclear|Projects|Safety|Water|Flow
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Global nuclear agency highlights its role in helping Africa adapt to climate change

10th November 2022

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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With the COP27 United Nations (UN) Climate Conference under way in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday released a report on how nuclear technologies are already being used to build climate change resilience across Africa. Over the past decade, nearly half of all the IAEA’s climate change adaptation projects have been undertaken in Africa.

The UN has reported that agricultural productivity in Africa has been greatly reduced over the past 60 years by increased temperatures or droughts. The global body has calculated that these effects have cost the continent economic losses of $70-billion over the past 50 years.

“In nuclear science and its applications we have the tools to adapt to climate change conditions,” affirmed IAEA director-general Mariano Grossi. “The IAEA is at the centre of global efforts to make sure no one is left behind when it comes to benefiting from these indispensable assets.”

IAEA climate change adaptation projects in Africa have encompassed climate-smart agriculture, improved crop varieties, food production, land use management, soil erosion, coastal protection, ocean change monitoring, water resource management and greenhouse gas emissions analysis. These have been aimed at reducing vulnerabilities and increasing resilience in these and other sectors.

Techniques that can be, and have been, provided by the IAEA include isotope hydrology, which uses isotopes to track the flow of water throughout a hydrological cycle and locate the original groundwater source. Isotopic techniques can also be used to help ascertain the amount of water in soil and so to establish the right amounts of water and nutrients to apply, and the right times to do so, to allow the production of high-value crops. These techniques can be used by smallholder farmers. Already well-established, to control fruit flies, mosquitos and tsetse flies, is the sterile insect technique, which uses irradiation to sterilise these pests to crops, animals and humans.

The IAEA has also been working with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in a number of resilience programmes. These include helping more than 30 African countries set up Food Safety Laboratories, which employ both traditional and innovative nuclear and isotopic techniques. They also include the development of new crop varieties, such as new drought- and pest-resistant cowpea and sorghum varieties for Namibia. Yet again, the two bodies are working jointly to use nuclear, nuclear-derived and nuclear-related techniques to identify both plant and animal diseases, likely to emerge or re-emerge as a result of climate change.

Between 2012 and 2021, the IAEA climate adaptation programme saw 238 technical cooperation projects carried out in 45 African countries. These projects involved the IAEA disbursing a total of €54-million.    

 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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