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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

Gastroenterology Unit works to bring a transformative impact to healthcare
2016-11-21

Description: Gastroenterology Unit  Tags: Gastroenterology Unit

Dr Rita Nathan, Acting CEO of Universitas Hospital,
Prof Willem Kruger, Acting Head of the
School of Medicine, and Prof Jan van Zyl,
Head of Department of Internal Medicine.
Photo: Nonsindiso Qwabe

The departments of Surgery and Internal Medicine at the University of Free State launched the newly upgraded Gastroenterology Unit of the Universitas Academic Hospital on 8 November 2016. Realising the need to provide state-of-the-art equipment that caters for various health needs, the unit has acquired new pieces of equipment worth R7 million. Through the equipment, a move towards the digital revolution, the unit hopes to bring about a transformative impact on healthcare service delivery in central South Africa and its surrounds.

Upgraded unit will make a difference on burden of diseases
Dr Rita Nathan, Acting CEO of the Universitas Hospital, said the increase in the number of scopes, and the improvement in technology, will facilitate improved service delivery to the community of the Free State and beyond. “This upgrade will enable the unit to make a tremendous dent in the burden of diseases in the communities we serve.”

Unit a unique feature in central South Africa

Serving a population from the Free State, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Lesotho; the growing demand of health services has led to an increase in the number of patients treated by the unit. This unit is unique in central South Africa as the only one providing endoscopic intervention for cases like gastrointestinal bleeding. It is also the only 24-hour gastroscopic service available in the state sector.

Improved service delivery linked to enhanced training platforms

Prof Willem Kruger, acting head of the School of Medicine, said that the upgrading of equipment will have an immense impact on not only service delivery, but also on training platforms in the latest technologies. “It important, as a university, that our doctors have the latest technology at their disposal to facilitate training. If training improves, service delivery improves. The two on inextricably linked.” he said.

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