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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

I-DENT-I-TIES to shine at the Free State Arts Festival
2016-07-08

Description: I-DENT-I-TIES  Tags: I-DENT-I-TIES

Erwin Maas with members of the student cast from the
Qwaqwa Campus. They are, from left: Mpho Xaba,
Lebohang Molefe and Tankiso Mofokeng.

Imagine this: A student cast from a rural campus; Production team consisting of a New York-based Dutch director, a South African screen and stage legend, a The Hague/Vienna-based Dutch theatre designer, and a Vienna-based Serbian performance-craft-artist and designer.

This sounds like a far-fetched flight of the imagination. But it is real and it is called ‘I-DENT-I-TIES’, a large-scale interdisciplinary performance project with international theatre professionals and students from the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Qwaqwa Campus.

According to the  director of the project, Erwin Maas, the production explores the ‘dents’ and ‘ties’ of both individual and communal identification and distinctiveness and does this through the famous Basotho story of ‘Moshanyana Sankatana’ as a point of departure.

“We explore questions like ‘what are dents in our society as well as in ourselves’, ‘what ties me to who I really am and who I want to be’, ‘what does it mean to be me’, ‘what does it mean to be South African’,” said Maas, who has been working on this project since last year.

The production also celebrates personal, communal, and universal narratives and identities through song, dance, story-telling, and music. It explores the past, the present, and the future.

“This production will certainly reveal an extraordinary journey into what makes us unique and binds us together,” he added during the rehearsals that started in May at the Qwaqwa Campus.

Maas has teamed up with a well-known South African film and stage legend, Jerry Mofokeng, as consultant. Mofokeng, who introduced Maas to the ‘Sankatana’ story, has featured on a number of critically-acclaimed films that include ‘Cry, The Beloved Country’ as well as the Academy Award-winning ‘Tsotsi’. Maas has also worked with the Hague/Vienna-based Dutch designer Nico de Rooij and Djana Covic, a Vienna-based Serbian designer.

The production is a partnership between the UFS Student Affairs, Vrystaat Arts Festival, the Programme for Innovation in Artform Development, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands in South Africa. It will premiere at the Free State Arts Festival, held in Bloemfontein from 11 to 16 July 2016. This will be followed by a performance at the Qwaqwa Campus on 19 July 2016.

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