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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

Weak states and armed movements – researching the underlying links
2014-08-28

 

Prof Theo Neethling is conducting research on armed movements in the DRC.
Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Prof Theo Neethling from the Department of Political Studies and Governance is currently conducting research on armed movements in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“My research is premised on the scholarly insight and argument that in weak states, such as the DRC, armed movements and militias are filling power vacuums that are the result of the inability and lack of military capacity to fight these movements effectively,” Prof Neethling says.

“In this context, the DRC is severely affected by sub-state terrorism,” he continues.

“This is a phenomenon that is intimately linked to the failure to effect sustained development and to consolidate accountable and effective governance in especially the eastern provinces of the country.”

Earlier this year, Prof Neethling presented conference papers on this topic at two international conferences: the Conference of the New York State Political Science Association, as well as the World International Studies Conference hosted in Frankfurt, Germany.

In 2013, Prof Neethling co-edited the book, ‘Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development in Africa: Concepts, Policy, Role-players and Practice’. He completed this work in collaboration with Prof Heidi Hudson from the UFS Centre for Africa Studies.

“The book revolves around the concept of ‘post-conflict’ and the blurring of military and civilian roles, analysing the multiple roles of the United Nations in the DRC and Sierra Leone, as well as the African Union Mission in Burundi,” Prof Neethling says.

“It also explores South Africa’s foreign policy imperatives in relation to multinational peace missions in conflict-stricken African states, involving military as well as civilian role-players.” 
 
 
 
 
 

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