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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

Triumph in the face of adversity
2016-04-29

Description: Glory NSH Tags: Glory NSH

Glory, one of fourteen NSH bursary recipients during the UFS Autumn Graduations.

At the University of the Free State (UFS) Autumn Graduation Ceremony held from 12-15 April 2016, on the Bloemfontein Campus, a record number of fourteen beneficiaries of the No Student Hungry (NSH) Bursary Programme received their degrees. This is an achievement they all feel they could not have reached, were it not for the support by NSH.

The NSH food bursary is awarded to students on the basis of financial need, academic excellence, and a commitment to serve the community. The UFS has helped over 650 students since 2011, when Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, started NSH.

These students are true beacons of inspiration and determination. Indeed, they have triumphed in the face of adversity. This is what can be said about their determination and will to succeed.

Glory, a previous recipient of the NSH bursary and a mother of two, graduated on Tuesday morning, receiving a BEd degree (intermediate phase). She stated that the NSH bursary changed her life drastically when she started receiving it.

“I used to constantly worry about my children and what they would eat. So I would sacrifice my own meals throughout the day just to make sure they have food to eat,” says Glory.

“The NSH bursary really gave me peace of mind, my school work was suffering and once I started receiving food each day, I could focus on what really mattered: my degree.”

“My goals for this year are to get a permanent job, and start receiving a stable salary. I am currently working as a temporary teacher at a primary school in Bloemfontein.

Description: Katlego NSH Tags: Katlego NSH

Katlego, one of fourteen NSH bursary recipients during the UFS Autumn Graduations.

“I never would have thought that I could have made it this far. I want to pursue my postgraduate studies, to inspire my children and other students who have been in my shoes. There is help and hope. My faith also gave me refuge. Nothing that is given to me is taken for granted,” says Glory.

Another student Katlego, who graduated on 14 April 2016, receiving her BCom Human Resource Management degree. At present, she is busy with her BCom Industrial Psychology Honours. She heard about the NSH food bursary, through a friend in 2014, and has been immensely grateful for all she has received. 

“There is no shame in asking for help. There can only be hope and relief,” she said.

“I am so thankful for NSH. As part of the bursary programme, we commit to serving the community. We receive but we are also encouraged to give back. The community service projects have helped me to get out of my comfort zone, to look beyond myself and acknowledge that I am also required to give back my time to others who appreciate and cherish it.”   

The NSH students are offered not only a food bursary; they participate in student wellness and development programmes, and they are motivated and exposed to opportunities for personal growth. Students are also encouraged to be involved in university or community projects as a way of ploughing back into the community, thus creating a reciprocal cycle of giving and receiving within their community.

 

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