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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

Publication on indigenous knowledge systems
2005-10-21

 

 

Dr Otsile Ntsoane (acting Director: IKS, Department of Science and Technology) and Prof Philip Nel (Director:  Africa Studies at the UFS and guest editor of the publication) at the launch of the publication

UFS launches most comprehensive publication on indigenous knowledge systems
A unique collection of essays on Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) was launched yesterday (20 October 2005) by the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Programme of Africa Studies.

The essays are published as a special edition of INDILINGA, the African Journal for Indigenous Knowledge Systems and is an outcome of the colloquium on Indigenous Knowledge Systems that was presented last year by the UFS Director of Africa Studies in cooperation with the National Research Council.

“The amount and diversity of materials on IKS brought together under one cover is unique as there are no other South African publications of this magnitude on this issue.  It contains papers of international experts on IKS such as Prof Fritz Wallner from Austria and Prof Gayatri Spivak, foremost postcolonial theorist from India,” said Prof Philip Nel, Director of Africa Studies and guest editor of the publication.

“The publication is a rich source field for students and scholars to exploit because most of the sources quoted in the articles are recent, fresh and relevant.  The contributors are largely people responsible for managing, fostering and studying IKS in a responsible manner,” said Prof Nel.

“An added value of the publication is the inclusion of the policy document on IKS that was adopted by Cabinet in November 2004,” said Prof Nel.


“Millions of people in South Africa are faced with the painful choice of abandoning their heritage.  In this choice, the study and management of IKS has a major role to play; on the one hand, to encourage as much assimilation of traditional knowledge as possible into the modern systems, and on the other hand to provide a “language” and a “grammar” for indigenous people through which they can access modernity,” said Prof Nel.

The IKS debate involves questions of African identity, protection of indigenous communities and practices, political aspects as well as the scientific integrity of the enterprise. 

The publication displays the range of burning questions that have to be resolved in this field such as mainstreaming IKS in academic debate and practice, recognition and protection of the knowledge holders, bio-prospecting and bio-piracy, bio and ethnic healing, lack of textbooks and field manuals, etc and will prove worthwhile for future researchers.

 “One of the main reasons for publishing this volume is the fact that IKS should be studied not only to provide a sense of pride in the past, or  to engender respect for indigenous peoples, but also to enable people in indigenous mind sets to make a better transition into the world of science and technology,” said Prof Nel.

The guest speaker at the launch was Dr Otsile Ntsoane, acting Director of IKS at the Department of Science and Technology.  In his speech Dr Ntsoane stressed the symbolic and concrete value of the publication.  “The publication can have a great social impact and the research results can contribute to chancing the economic landscape of South Africa,” he said.

The publication can be purchased at R150 per copy.  For more information, Ms Steffi Cawood, Programme Coordinator for Africa Studies at the UFS can be contacted at (051) 401-2614.

Media release
Issued by:Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:   (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
21 October 2005
 

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