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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 chemist invited by UNESCO to present lecture at World Science Forum in Budapest
2015-12-07

From the left are: Dr Jean-Paul Ngome Abiaga from UNESCO, France; Abdoulaye Ibrahim, also from UNESCO in France; and Truidie Venter, a young scientist from the Department of Chemistry at the UFS.
Photo: Supplied

Dr Truidie Venter, a young scientist from Inorganic Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at the University of the Free State (UFS), returned recently from presenting a lecture at the 7th World Science Forum, held in Budapest, Hungary. She was one of the few young researchers world-wide who were invited to attend the forum.

In her capacity as a young female researcher from Africa, Truidie was invited by UNESCO to present her views on science in diplomacy at this event. Her talk focused on collaboration between researchers from different countries, and the challenges faced by young researchers in Africa, and served to initiate discussions between young researchers concerning international, interdisciplinary scientific cooperation.

The Science Forum, an international conference dedicated to science and knowledge, was held in Budapest from 4-7 November 2015. This interdisciplinary gathering is supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Council for Science (ICSU), and other partners, and is aimed at providing an occasion for representatives of science, politics, international organisations, industrial and financial decision makers, international science forums, and science academies to meet and exchange views.

More than nine hundred delegates from 108 countries took part in this event. The speakers included Her Royal Majesty Princess Sumaya Bint El Hassan, President of the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan, Dr Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, Prof Sir Peter Gluckman, first Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Prof Ene Ergma, former President of the Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament), and Ms Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology of South Africa.

At the conclusion of the forum, a declaration was accepted regarding the renewal of the scientific community’s commitment to the responsible and ethical use of scientific knowledge in addressing the grand challenges of humankind. This declaration addressed the headings of climate change, new sustainable development paths, disaster risk reduction, scientific advice for policies, international collaboration for capacity-building and mobilisation in the developing world, and balanced investment in science.

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