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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

“To interpret is more than the ability to have mastered two languages”
2014-03-27

 

It is equally unfair to the accused as the victim when an untrained court interpreter is used in a court case.

In South Africa there are currently a large percentage of interpreters employed by the Department of Justice without any formal training.

While interpreting is in reality a very complex subject, the general acceptance is that everybody who is able speak two languages or more can be an interpreter.

This perception harms interpreting as a profession, as it results in most institutions appointing any multilingual person as an interpreter.

In many cases people are used to interpret into and from their third or fourth language (of which Afrikaans is one). This leads to inaccuracy and the incorrect use of expressions and terminology. Specific cognitive processes also have to be developed and practiced.

The University of the Free State (UFS) has since 2008 trained approximately 200 court interpreters in South Africa. This training includes the theory of interpreting and practical exercises, as well as the development of terminology and a basic knowledge of the legal system in South Africa.

The training provided to court interpreters by the Unit for Language Management and Facilitation, is done in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and SASSETA (Safety and Security).

Apart from Afrikaans, native speakers of all South African languages are included in the training.

Much attention (rightfully) are given to interpreters who can interpret between the nine African languages and (mostly) English, but in the process the development of interpreters between Afrikaans and English was neglected, as became apparent in the past two weeks during the Oscar Pistorius case.


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