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20 July 2018 Photo Leonie Bolleurs
Research informs about sustainable use of fresh water for food production
Conducting research on the topic of water-footprint assessment, are from the left: Dr Enoch Owusu-Sekyere, Dr Henry Jordaan, study leader and Senior Lecturer in the UFS Department of Agricultural Economics, Dr Frikkie Maré (Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics), and Adetoso Adetoro.

The fact that South Africa is a water-scarce country has been highlighted during the past couple of years, and even city dwellers were suddenly very aware of the drought due to the strict water restrictions. These are the words of Dr Frikkie Maré, Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of the Free State (UFS) and one of the graduates who received his PhD on water-footprint assessment studies at the recent June 2018 graduations.

The department is currently involved in various water-footprint and water-management research projects which assist in providing solutions for better water management in the future. “As department, we want to be at the forefront of research that will assist all agricultural producers with sustainable production practices to ensure economic, environmental, and social sustainable food and fibre products for the society at large,” said Dr Maré.

Research funded by Water Research Commission

The UFS recently conferred two PhD degrees (Drs Enoch Owusu-Sekyere and Frikkie Maré) and one master’s degree (Adetoso Adetoro) in the Department of Agricultural Economics. All three have been working in the field of water-footprint assessment. The research formed part of two different projects that were initiated and funded by the Water Research Commission.

According to Dr Henry Jordaan, Senior Lecturer in this department, four of his students already received their master’s degrees on the topic of water-footprint assessment, while two students are busy with PhDs and three more are working on their master’s degrees.

Topic gains momentum in research community
The water-footprint concept serves as a useful indicator to sensitise society about the impact of the food we eat on scarce freshwater resources – from agricultural producers using water to produce primary food crops and products on the farm, to the end consumer buying the food products in the retail store in town.

“Water-footprint assessment is a relatively new field aimed at informing the sustainable use of fresh water for food production. This topic is gaining momentum in the research community, given the substantial increase in the global population in the context of freshwater resources that is getting increasingly scarce. The challenge is to feed the growing population while still using the scarce freshwater resources sustainably.

Volume of water used to produce food

“In order to inform water users on how to use the resource sustainably, it is important to know the volume of water that was used to produce the required food products. Through our research, we are contributing to this knowledge by assessing the volume of water that was used to produce selected products, and to interpret the water use in the context of water availability to gain insight into the degree of sustainability with which the resource is used. The results are expected to inform water users, water managers, and policy makers regarding the sustainable use of fresh water for food production,” said Dr Jordaan.

News Archive

Weak states and armed movements – researching the underlying links
2014-08-28

 

Prof Theo Neethling is conducting research on armed movements in the DRC.
Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Prof Theo Neethling from the Department of Political Studies and Governance is currently conducting research on armed movements in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“My research is premised on the scholarly insight and argument that in weak states, such as the DRC, armed movements and militias are filling power vacuums that are the result of the inability and lack of military capacity to fight these movements effectively,” Prof Neethling says.

“In this context, the DRC is severely affected by sub-state terrorism,” he continues.

“This is a phenomenon that is intimately linked to the failure to effect sustained development and to consolidate accountable and effective governance in especially the eastern provinces of the country.”

Earlier this year, Prof Neethling presented conference papers on this topic at two international conferences: the Conference of the New York State Political Science Association, as well as the World International Studies Conference hosted in Frankfurt, Germany.

In 2013, Prof Neethling co-edited the book, ‘Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development in Africa: Concepts, Policy, Role-players and Practice’. He completed this work in collaboration with Prof Heidi Hudson from the UFS Centre for Africa Studies.

“The book revolves around the concept of ‘post-conflict’ and the blurring of military and civilian roles, analysing the multiple roles of the United Nations in the DRC and Sierra Leone, as well as the African Union Mission in Burundi,” Prof Neethling says.

“It also explores South Africa’s foreign policy imperatives in relation to multinational peace missions in conflict-stricken African states, involving military as well as civilian role-players.” 
 
 
 
 
 

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