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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

Rag spreads the spirit of Ubuntu in Dinaweng informal settlement
2015-08-25

 

The Rag Committee teamed up with Prowess to create the first pop-up Street Store in Bloemfontein, as part of the Ubuntu Community Store Project. On 22 August 2015, the residents of Dinaweng had the opportunity to get hold of new and second-hand clothing free of charge. Soup and bread were also served to the children and the elders of the area, which is all too familiar to the media for its high unemployment, crime, and prostitution rates.

How do clothes represent Ubuntu?

From Tubatsi Moloi’s perspective, this is the team’s way of demonstrating that Ubuntu does not exist merely as a philosophy. The Rag Committee shows compassion to communities that lack resources essential to leading a dignified life.

“Ubuntu basically means uniting with the community by giving back and also thinking for those who are in need,” says the RAG Committee Executive.

Prowess, a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) run by Kovsie students, initiated the concept which targets homeless and needy individuals unable to purchase clothing. Students from all 26 Kovsie residences and personnel have since supported the initiative by donating to the inaugural Street Store through representatives of Rag in residences.

The Street Store will continue to empower impoverished communities within the Mangaung Metro, and champion these human projects in collaboration with external stakeholders.
“We will also be working with Twee-Toring Church, although it has not yet been confirmed when we will pay them a visit,” said Tubatsi.

Providing basic needs such as clothing has the power to reinstate the dignity of people. Rag and Prowess have taken it upon themselves to practice the ideals of Ubuntu in an attempt to ensure that the less fortunate lead dignified lives.

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