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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

Husband and wife make formidable team as they simultaneously receive a PhD
2014-12-12

Stellah Nambalirwa Lubinga and Moses Herbert Lubinga – a married couple – each received their Doctoral degrees at our 2014 Summer Graduation Ceremony. Their PhDs are in Public Administration and Management and Agricultural Economics respectively.

Dr Stellah Lubinga’s thesis is titled ‘The role of democratic rights and obligations of citizens in enhancing public service delivery in Uganda’. Her research makes a valuable contribution to a subject that has been under the spotlight in Uganda for some time. She contends that citizens need to exercise their rights to participate in planning for service delivery. In the absence of their participation, the quality of such services will remain sub-standard. Dr Stellah Lubinga proposes far-reaching interventions for ensuring constructive citizen involvement in the planning processes of service delivery.

Dr Moses Lubinga developed a set of Horticultural indices to be used as proxies in evaluating the impact of climate change on horticultural trade flows to the European Union market. His thesis is titled ‘The impact of climate change and the European Union GSP-Scheme on East Africa’s Horticultural Trade’. His methodological contribution lays the foundation for the future assessment of international trade flows from agriculturally-driven economies in informing policy-makers on the formulation of international trade policy – to the ultimate benefit of the nations in question.

The husband and wife Doctoral graduates originate from Kampala, Uganda, and have lectured and held several other positions in Ugandan and South African educational institutions. They continue to make great contributions in their respective fields of work.

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