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04 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Prof Cathryn Tonne
Air pollution not only costs lives, it costs money too. Pictured is Prof Cathryn Tonne presenting a guest lecture on air pollution at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Health effects associated with ambient air pollution (AAP) have been well documented. Subsequently, the relationship between pollution and financial outcomes have also become a focus for case studies globally. An Environmental Research journal article revealed that “low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by the global burden of adverse health effects caused by AAP”. 

A high price to pay

In 2012, high concentrations of air pollution caused 7.4% of all deaths, costing South Africa up to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product. According to the recent International Growth Centre study conducted by senior University of Cape Town researchers, this is a direct consequence of the country’s heavy dependence of fossil fuels, a source of health-damaging air pollution and greenhouse pollutants.

Stunted human and economic growth

These South African statistics are attested to by Prof Cathryn Tonne who recently presented a guest lecture on air pollution which was hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS) Business School.

“Air pollution can affect economic development through several pathways, and health is an important one. Air pollution is linked to shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, asthma exacerbation and many other health outcomes that result in absenteeism from work and school. These have large direct costs to the health system.” 

Prof Tonne says that air pollution exposure in children is linked to reduced cognitive development, with important impacts on human capital. As a result, children are not reaching their full potential in terms of neurodevelopment, which has an effect on their income prospects and the economy as a whole. 

Resolving a looming disaster

Technology may be employed to radically clean the air. Cities need to lead in the reduction of air pollution by promoting renewable energy, using active transport such as walking or cycling, and investing in infrastructure to make this safe and attractive. 

With researchers playing a major role in strengthening the case for aggressive air pollution control, the government needs to implement policies in order to control sources of air pollution. This global health and economic issue also requires individuals and communities to play their part to improve air quality.

News Archive

Authentic leaders inspire themselves
2010-04-30

 

 Dr Renalde Huysamen and Mrs Marietjie du Plessis.

Leadership is held in very high esteem. In today’s world the ability to lead and motivate yourself and others is of the utmost importance. This year, Dr Renalde Huysamen and Marietjie du Plessis from the Centre for Higher Education Studies and Development (CHESD) at the University of the Free State (UFS), continue to build on a year-long Leadership-Learning Community Programme that they launched last year.

The aim of the project is, amongst others, to assist academic and non-academic staff at the university not only to discover their own strengths as leaders, but also to dream about it in order to achieve lively, sustainable and flourishing communities of collaborative learning and development. During the first six months of the programme staff members of the UFS investigate their personal and professional experiences and in the process they grow as individuals and authentic leaders.

The group is very diverse in terms of race, gender, language and qualifications. According to Mrs Du Plessis this diversity creates an opportunity where participants learn to understand themselves and others better. Firm ties are forged in a supportive, safe and stimulating environment in which mutual learning can take place.

During the last six months of the year the focus is on research outputs for academic staff en projects for non-academic staff. Some personnel have already published articles and managed to build international relations by means of this. Non-academic personnel have engaged in projects to improve provision of service with great success.

The Leadership Programme comprises 40 hours and includes breakaway sessions, group and individual activities, interviews and conversations, out-door activities, narrations and research methodology. The sessions take place on the UFS campus, but two breakaway sessions at resorts near Bloemfontein are also undertaken. Although this programme has been launched in the Higher-Education sector, it can also be adapted to fulfil the needs of any other sector, says Dr Huysamen.

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