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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 tackles identity in an unusual story-telling style
2016-07-26

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

One of the leading performers, Baanetse Mokhotla.
Photo: Thabo Kessah

The I-DENT-I-TIES project has been an enormous experience for the Qwaqwa Campus students who were part of this large-scale interdisciplinary performance project. This is according to Baanetse Mokhotla, one of the leading performers.

“I have personally learnt a lot about performing arts and also grew as an individual,” Baanetse said about the production that was part of this year’s Vrystaat Arts Festival in Bloemfontein.

This massive interactive production of the 54-member student cast utilises music, song and dance in an unusual method of story-telling. It uses live video camera feeds on two big screens as well as recorded video clips of the cast itself and members of the community, some of whom were part of the audience during the two shows staged on the Qwaqwa Campus. The cast intermittently mingles with the audience, thus allowing the latter to be part of the narrative as well.

The main story line explores issues around identity while using the famous Basotho story of ‘Moshanyana Sankatana’ as a catalyst.

Two of the capturing features are the live interviews and the narration of the animated ‘Moshanyana Sankatana’ story, creating stories within a story.

Commenting about the project, SRC President Paseka Sikhosana said that he was happy to have led the student community during this proud moment.

“I loved how this show has exposed our enormously talented performers to the world. It was magical and we need more of such to ensure there will never be a dull moment on our campus,” he said.

Sociology lecturer Sivuyisiwe Magayana said: “I-DENT-I-TIES production was fresh fun. It exhibited the fact that we should be appreciative of other's differences. It also emphasised that we should move away from subscribing to an 'in-group' and 'out-group' mentality when it comes to issues of race, sexuality and identity.”

The international creative team behind this project included a New York-based Dutch director, Erwin Maas; Vienna-based Dutch theatre designer, Nico de Rooij; Djana Covic, a Serbian performance-craft-artist based in Vienna; and South African film and stage legend Jerry Mofokeng.

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