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Happy days for the CBRN ECA COE P-60 participating countries in Brussels

Happy days for the CBRN ECA COE P-60 participating countries in Brussels

 

The P-60 participating states had a lot to rejoice during the EU CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative Fifth International Meeting of the National Focal Points. All of the representatives of the P-60 countries from Eastern and Central Africa (ECA) region gathered from 16 through 18 May 2017, in hotel Metropole in Brussels, except for Namibia, a specific P-60 member that for the moment does not belong to any of the three Africa based EU CBRN Centres of Excellence.

The P-60 countries National Focal Points discussed a plethora of topics with their colleagues from the rest of the eight Regional Secretariats, DEVCO and EEAS officials, UNICRI and international organizations, On-Site Assistance experts, project implementing agencies, including the International Science and Technology Centre.

At the final wrap up session of the gathering, Mr Joseph Maina, an established nuclear expert from the Kenyan Radiation Protection Board who heads the ECA Regional Secretariat, had to put in a concise report a lot of themes and conclusions. During their Ninth National Focal Points Round-Table Meeting that took place in the course of the Brussels event, NFPs agreed that a united approach is needed to successfully face the global threats, while sharing the responsibilities to contribute to peace and security. They also recognized the significant impact the CBRN CoE Initiative makes to their internal coordination and to the regional collaboration.

The Brussels meeting may very well be remembered also for the Inter-African session carried out together by the African Atlantic Façade, Eastern and Central Africa, North Africa and Sahel secretariats. Participants agreed that the inter-regional collaboration on the African continent is of strategic importance. The work done within the CoE Initiative deserves further promotion and even greater political support. The interaction with the specialized International Organizations (IOs) is a two-way street. The IOs help African countries develop their National CBRN Action Plans while the CoE network contributes to the further development of the international instruments themselves.

Being the main stakeholders of the EU-funded CBRN projects on the African continent, the NFPs engaged in Brussels in substantial discussions on the regional priorities to be translated into new regional projects, particularly in the field of chemical and bio-security. In this line of thought the terms of reference of the MEDISAFE project came under scrutiny on Combatting Falsified medicines in ECA region.

The Radiological and Nuclear security topic became predominant at the discussion on the Project 60 follow up steps, following the inaugural P-60 meeting in Nairobi, on 23 February 2017. In their capacity of members of the Steering Committee, the NPFs discussed the P-60 Key Performance Indicators and the Quality Assurance Plan (QAP). They paid special attention to the Quality Assurance processes: management of deliverables; effective metrics of education and training capturing the output of the training, the subjective reactions to course delivery and content, the learning and participation in the learning event, the behaviour and improved performance at workplace, the ratio between results and desired outcomes, etc. The Project reporting, monetary management, problem handling and risk mitigation were also scrutinized, as well as the P-60 management structure and the envisaged monitoring and evaluation.

 

 

 

In their comments following the presentation of the QAP, the NFPs suggested that: P-60 should expand its scope beyond orphan RN sources recovery to help compile inventories of all radiological sources (Ethiopia); pointed out that the website, once launched in the near future should be a working tool for exchange of information; underlined the importance of the lists of equipment that the border managing authorities will benefit from (Burundi); expressed an understanding that as an outcome of P-60 a search and secure program for orphan sources should come into existence (Tanzania); stressed that the safe transportation of uranium ore should remain a priority (Malawi, Zambia); indicated the importance of public awareness about the risks arising from exposure to radiation (DRC); etc. All participants expressed satisfaction that the P-60 participation states will have the possibility to observe the upcoming Regional Radiological Emergency Response Table Top exercise in Astana, on 13 and 14 June 2017, noting that within the framework of Project 60 the African countries plan to carry out ten national or regional exercises of that type.

Similarly, the related project MC 5.01/13B in support to Southern African countries in nuclear safety and safeguards contains plans for an exercise simulating the transport of uranium ore concentrate from Tanzania to Namibia through Malawi and Zambia, and monitoring step by step the provisions applied in the individual countries, at the border crossings and assessing the interaction at the regional level. For the purpose, the project envisages the setup of a web-based communication system with a central server at the Headquarters of the Southern African Development Community in Gaborone, Botswana, and fully-supported work stations at the responsible organizations in the four beneficiary countries, with a flexibility to allow further extension to other countries joining the network. The representatives of Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and also another SADC member – the Seychelles responded positively to the invitation for a special meeting during the Brussels event with DEVCO, JRC and ISTC Project Manager. The meeting allowed to assess the progress made and to consider further interaction and exchange between the SADC Secretariat and the involved SADC Member States to facilitate the advancement of the Project MC 5.01/13B implementation.

In Brussels, the National Action Plan poster presentations was a particularly pleasant part of the program for the P-60 participating states. Several of them – Uganda, DRC, Seychelles, Kenya – stood proudly close to the respective exhibits, provided explanations and shared experience with colleagues from all over the world.

Equally moving and pleasant event proved to be the Prize Award ceremony for best CoE National Team. Mr. Muntanga, representing Zambia, began his accepting speech on receiving the 2017 Award with these words: My name is Happy. But today, if I tell you – I am {H}happy, that would be an obvious understatement. I am extremely delighted to receive on behalf of Zambia’s CBRN National Team the token of recognition by their colleagues worldwide.

Indeed, in 2017 Zambia reversed the usual alphabetical order of enlisting the P-60 participating countries to become the first in line when it comes to achievements.

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