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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

Judge Albie Sachs and Candice Mama discuss traumas of the past and forgiveness in the present
2015-08-05

 

Judge Albie Sachs embraces Candice Mama for her courage in confronting Eugene de Kock, who killed her father.

Two generations. Two stories of triumph. Two South Africans who have displayed immense courage.

Public Dialogue on Trauma, Memory, and Representations of the Past

Judge Albie Sachs and Candice Mama exchanged their experiences of past trauma and subsequent transformation in a public conversation. The event was co-hosted by Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela and The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) in Cape Town on Thursday 30 July 2015.

The event was the first instalment in a series entitled Public Dialogue on Trauma, Memory, and Representations of the Past. The theme of the discussion was ‘Intergenerational Dialogue on Trauma and Healing’.

"The aim of these public dialogue events we are co-hosting with IJR is to place the issues of trauma and memory, and the strategies that individuals and communities use to heal, in the public sphere," Prof Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior Research Professor in Trauma, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State (UFS) said.

Judge Albie Sachs and Candice Mama in conversation

Former Constitutional Court Judge, Albie Sachs, talked about his participation in South Africa’s liberation struggle, the loss of his right arm in an assassination attempt, and meeting the man responsible – Henri van der Westhuizen. Despite years of exile and extended periods of solitary confinement, Judge Sachs maintains that “we need to acknowledge our history, not be trapped by it.” Judge Sachs also remarked, though, that “we’re seeing too much lamentation, not enough activation.” In a heartrending gesture, Judge Sachs embraced Candice Mama in a hug for her courage in confronting Eugene de Kock, who killed her father.

How poignant then, when Mama said, “I wanted to embrace the brokenness within him,” when she spoke about her meeting with De Kock. By the time I met with Eugene, I could meet him as a human being, not as a villain.” Mama believes that forgiving someone translates into an investment in the person you are forgiving and in your own sanity. She also emphasised the importance of dialogue to move our country forward: “When we share our stories with each other authentically, walls break down.”

This is a stance that Prof Gobodo-Madikizela supports strongly: “When we listen to one another, something unexpected emerges; we encounter the human in each other,” she said. “When we listen with open hearts to each other, we see and experience each other’s humanity.”

Building a bridge between research and society

Referring to the research aspect of the event, Prof Gobodo-Madikizela said that, "in establishing the series of public dialogue events, our vision is to create a bridge between scholarly research and the community at large, on the one hand, and a visual conscience of society, on the other." The UFS is collaborating with the IJR on this research project, which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The endeavour is led by Prof Gobodo-Madikizela, who also serves as Board Member of the IJR.

 

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