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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

Tough future if nothing changes in Africa
2015-02-20

 

The Department of Political Studies and Governance at the UFS recently hosted a workshop with the Osaka School for International Public Policy and the Southern African Centre for Collaboration in Peace and Security Studies.

The workshop, which was held on Thursday 12 February, had the theme of Perspectives on African Peace and Security. During workshop sessions, thoughts and views on peace and security were discussed for both African and South African circumstances. This was the fourth year of this joint workshop at the UFS.

Prof Hussein Solomon from the Department of Political Studies and Governance at the UFS shared some notes:

“In terms of South Africa, the fact that only 11% of South Africans have a post-school education holds negative prospects for us attaining a so-called ‘knowledge economy’”, says Prof Solomon.

“This also means that unemployment will continue to remain high since, in certain key areas, the South African economy is quite sophisticated, and needs a sophisticated labour force. Therefore, high unemployment translates into further social unrest, especially if one considers that youth unemployment is approaching 50%.”
 
Moving to broader issues in Africa, Solomon states that governance remains a challenge.

“There is a need to move away from Eurocentric forms of governance to more hybrid forms, implementing a mix of western forms of governance alongside more traditional forms.”

“Otherwise, the probability of conflict remains high as we look into the future. The possibility of water wars between African states is distinct.”

“Terrorism too will be with us for some time to come, with three terrorist attacks per day in Africa. Making matters worse, whether it is conflict over water or terrorist atrocities, is the African Union’s inability to resolve these issues. It simply does not have the capacity”, says Solomon.

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