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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

Centre for Sustainable Agriculture to focus 20 years’ experience on food security
2014-12-04

 

The University of the Free State (UFS) Centre for Sustainable Agriculture is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. According to Prof Izak Groenewald, professor in this centre, their vision in future will be to focus on food security.

Besides the centre’s role in training people to make a contribution to food security, Prof Groenewald and his team adapted the learning programmes to add mobility to its qualifications – students can now obtain qualifications in short courses up to PhD qualifications.

Short courses include:
• Introduction to Innovation and Rural Development
• Foundational Theories in Livestock Production
• Sustainable Plant Production

Persons interested in the Advanced Diploma in Sustainable Agriculture, can register for the following modules:
• Fundamentals of Rural Development
• Fundamentals of Agricultural Economics
• Sustainable Plant Production Practices
• Sustainable Animal Production Practices
• Basic written communication and presentation skills

Focus areas in the master’s degree programme are:
• Agribusiness management
• Value adding
• Rural development
• Plant production
• Animal production

The Centre for Sustainable Agriculture regards partnerships with institutions abroad as vitally important. For this reason, partnerships have already been fromed with the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS), the University of Minnesota and the National Department of Agriculture.

Persons obtaining qualifications at the centre will be able to find employment in the following fields:
• Project management and planning
• Rural development sociology
• Livestock production systems
• Advisors in the agricultural sector of commercial banks
• Commercial and emerging farmers
• Extension services with government departments as link between farmer and government
• Lecturers
• Researchers

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