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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

ANC Centenary Seminar looks at the role of women in the liberation struggle
2012-03-22

 

At the ANC Centenary Seminar were, from the left: Nadine Lake, ProgrammeDirector: Gender Studies, at the UFS; Prof. Hassim; Zubeida Jaffer, Writer-in-Residence at the UFS; and Senovia Welman from the UFS-Sasol Library.
Photo: Amanda Tongha
22 March 2012


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Looking back at the history of South African politics you will always find women involved in that history.”

This is according to Prof. Shireen Hassim, a professor in Political Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, who recently spoke at an ANC Centenary Seminar, held on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). The seminar is part of a series of dialogues hosted by the Centre for Africa Studies about the ruling party’s 100 years of existence. It was the first one to be held following the 100 year celebrations of the ANC in January 2012 and was dedicated to the ANC Women’s League. Prof. Hassim told the audience that from early roles as wives who provided catering and entertainment, women have always been politically active in the African National Congress (ANC).

Women took the lead in the defiance campaign, going beyond the role of tea lady of the 1910s. When the ANC went into exile, the women’s section, as it was called then, played an important role.” Prof. Hassim also praised independent women’s organisations for the role they had played during the struggle and added that they were part of the collective history.

Talking about today’s Women’s League, Prof. Hassim said there had been debate about its current role with some critics labelling the league conservative. “In recent years, they have become very allied to internal battles.”

According to Prof. Hassim, a new language was needed that could give voice to the policies that needed to be developed.She drew attention to the plight of rural women, saying that thus far urban women have been taking the lead in defining issues. She warned that legislation like the Traditional Courts Bill would put rural women at a disadvantage. Prof. Hassim said the Bill was not rigorously debated, despite the high number of women in Parliament.

 

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