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26 March 2018 Photo Pixabay
Back to the drawing board to save water
We’ve managed to damage nature’s ‘filter’ with air, ocean, and soil pollution, and by destroying wetlands.

Dr Cindé Greyling, a University of the Free State (UFS) DiMTEC (Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa) alumni, studied drought mitigation with a strong focus on communicating important water-saving information. 

Can we run out of water?
Yes, and no, says Dr Greyling. “To our knowledge, water is not ‘leaking’ through our atmosphere. We have what we have, but that doesn’t mean we will have enough clean, fresh water forever. Nature has a magnificent way of purifying water through the water cycle. We, on the other hand, must use a lot of money and energy to purify water. Also, we’ve managed to damage nature’s ‘filter’ with air, ocean, and soil pollution, and by destroying wetlands. The other problem is a simple supply and demand scenario. More people will need more water, but not only that, population growth calls for industry development and increased food supplies – all of which require more water.”    

A war over water
Besides some Hollywood impressions, it is difficult to imagine a war over water, but it is possible. “Some experts are convinced that we are heading there, and others claim that such tensions already exist. Personally, I don’t favour these kinds of shock tactics (or truths) – social research has shown us that it rarely leads to behavioural changes. We can learn a lot from what was has been done in Cape Town. Although we all think people were bombarded with ‘Day-Zero’-scares, they were actually encouraged to adapt their behaviour with a communication campaign that hardly ever used the term ‘Day-Zero’. This approach mobilised citizens to reach record lows of water usage.” 

Adapt a new normal
Dr Greyling encourages the “new normal” set in motion by Capetonians. “Water consciousness is needed, even when the rain comes again. We’ve taken water for granted for too long. As consumers, we have the power to turn this situation around – drop for drop. Be aware about the amount of water you use, how you use it, and for what. Keep in mind that any wastage and pollution (of ‘dry’ things) also wastes and pollutes water. Generally, we need to behave better regarding consumption.”  

News Archive

UFS’ position on student politics
2011-09-01

The University of the Free State (UFS) welcomes politics on its campus. It especially invites students to participate in all the political activities on campus, ranging from seminars and debates on national and provincial politics, and organization within party political structures. Earlier the year, in the run-up to the Local Government Elections, a programme was run on campus with all political parties participating in public and radio debates with students on political issues.

A university must be a place for all kinds of ideas and organizations---social, cultural, religious, academic and, yes, political. The perception that the UFS has “banned” politics is simply not true, nor is it possible within a constitutional democracy.
 
The University of the Free State once again invites SASCO and any other political groupings that have not yet registered to participate in campus life, to do so as soon as possible. It is important to the UFS that all student bodies enjoy full participation in campus life, and that there exists a vibrant and exciting political life on the campus alongside academic, social, cultural and religious life.
 
The Student Representative Council (SRC) Elections at the UFS has been constituted on independent candidacy and non-party-political basis. This is a decision crafted and recommended by the Broad Student Transformation Forum, whose members are elected by students, and approved for implementation by the highest authority of the university, the Council. The decisions of the Student Forum entails that all students can nominate individuals for a variety of student leadership positions, which includes nomination for elective portfolios in the SRC elections, but also within nine sub-councils that hold ex-officio seats on the SRC.
 
The old system which restricted student leadership to representation on a party-political basis only (DA, ANC, Freedom Front Plus etc) no longer exists.
 
This decision of the Student Forum ensures that the rights of all students to directly elect their representatives are protected, and that the SRC in fact represents the student body as a whole and not particular interest groups alone. This decision enables ALL students to stand for and participate in campus politics in the SRC elections, though not on a party political ticket. In the 2011 SRC Elections, for example, SASCO members were indeed mandated by its local branch to stand as candidates for various elected positions, as did other political parties such as the DA Student Organisation, a development which the university welcomes. 
 
Most importantly, the UFS insists that all students participate in university life with respect for the rights of all students, irrespective of their social beliefs or political commitments. The UFS insists that no student or student grouping acts to disrupt campus life or insult university staff or denigrate fellow students on grounds of race, religion, language, gender, etc. This is very important to the UFS as it works to build a non-racial culture that respects our common humanity. Our students must learn that democracy and decency go hand in hand, and that part of learning at a university, is to learn to differ without resorting to a language of derision.
 
In short, the University of the Free State warmly welcomes full participation in politics, as in other spheres of student life, on all three its campuses.
 
Statement by Prof. Jonathan Jansen, UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector.

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