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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

Lecture focuses on how Marikana widows embody the transformative power of art
2015-08-11

Makopane Thelejane

"When I got the news of my husband is dead, I put my hands above my head, as you see me in this picture. I could not bear the ache in my heart." - Makopane Thelejane

A woman looks down on a canvas covered in thick layers of red, dark shadows falling across her face. A brief moment that captures the silently-devastating aftermath of the Marikana massacre that bled into the lives of 34 widows.

It is this silent trauma that was at the centre of the last instalment of the Vice-Chancellor’s Lecture Series for 2015. “These stories of the Marikana widows are important. It is these stories of silence that live behind the spectacular scenes of the violence,” Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior Research Professor in Trauma, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State (UFS) said at the event.

Panel
The lecture, which took place on Monday 27 July 2015 on the Bloemfontein Campus, took the form of a panel discussing the theme of “Speaking wounds: voices of Marikana widows through art and narrative”. The panel consisted of members from the Khulumani Support Group, including Dr Marjorie Jobson (National Director) and Judy Seidman (Sociologist and Graphic Artist), as well as Nomfundo Walaza, former CEO of the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre.

Betty Lomasontlo Gadlela

"Then this dark time came, a dark cloud over me. It made me to have an aching heart, which took me to hospital, from losing my loved one, my husband, in such a terrible manner. " - Betty Lomasontlo Gadlela

Trauma made visible
In a project initiated by Khulumani, the Marikana widows were encouraged to share their trauma through painting body maps – in which the widows depicted their own bodies immersed in their trauma – and narrating their personal stories. Throughout the workshops, the focus always remained on the women. As Siedman put it, “the power of this process is rooted in the participants. The statements of what the participants experienced is what’s important.”

Initially silenced and isolated, this group of women has now moved “into a space where they have become connected to each, and stand up for each other in the most powerful ways,” Dr Jobson said. “Our work is conceptualised in terms of giving visibility and voice to the people who know what it takes to change this country; to change this struggle.”

The transformative power of art and narrative
During her response, Walaza pointed out “how art and narrative can transform traumatic memory and become integrated in the survivors’ life story.” This gives individuals the opportunity, she said, “to step into a space of mutual listening and dialoguing in which people bond together.”

Co-hosted by Prof Gobodo-Madikizela and the UFS Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, the lecture series forms part of a five-year research project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

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