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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

Motho ke motho ka batho. A person is a person through others.
2016-04-26

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Student Bursary Fund Campaign booklet (pdf)
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Student Bursary Fund Campaign launched: #FundAFuture and make a difference

 

“I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to study further. For that to happen, the heavens had to forge a way.” Mixed feelings dapple Jean-Pierré van der Walt's face as he recounts the miracles - and hardships - of his journey.

Motho ke motho ka batho. A person is a person through others.

Jean-Pierré is one of ambassadors of the Student Bursary Fund Campaign, launched by the University of the Free State (UFS). The project aims to raise R100 m to fund talented, deserving students who do not have the financial means to obtain a university degree. This financial support will change the future irrevocably for many young people in our country, young people who are similar to Jean-Pierré.

Description: Jean-Pierré van der Walt Tags: Jean-Pierré van der Walt

Jean-Pierré van der Walt
Photo: Sonia Small

“When I was in matric, going to university was never an option.” Surmounting his financial circumstances seemed impossible. “It made me feel despondent, and I thought to myself: after school, what would my life be like, where am I going?” It was at this juncture in his life that a funding opportunity enabled him to pursue his dream of making a difference in the world through education. He embarked on a BEd degree in Senior and FET (Further Education and Training) Teaching, which he completed in 2015.

“Varsity taught me to stand up for myself, to make my voice heard,” Jean-Pierré says. “If I did not have the opportunity to attend university, I would have missed my calling in life: to show the world that, despite your physical restrictions, you can still make a difference.” Jean-Pierré is differently-abled as a result of cerebral palsy.

Looking to be placed as an English and Sesotho teacher, Jean-Pierré is eager to teach children that anything is possible, regardless of heritage, family life, or circumstances. “Motho ke motho ka batho. A person is a person through others,” he says is the philosophy he lives by. “One cannot survive in solitude; one needs others to go further in life.”

In the same way, the UFS needs your support and generosity. Each contribution will bring us closer to our goal of R100 m, and to changing the landscape of our youth’s future.

Visit our Giving page for ways to donate.

 

For enquiries or further information:
T: +27(0)51 401 3966 | E: FundAFuture@ufs.ac.za | www.ufs.ac.za

 

 


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