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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

UFS finances are fundamentally sound
2007-12-01

The finances of the University of the Free State (UFS) remain fundamentally sound and a higher than expected surplus of about R26 million was achieved in the 2007 budget.

This announcement was made last week during the last meeting of the UFS Council by Prof. Frederick Fourie, Rector and Vice-Chancellor.

“Up to now, we could finance the considerable investments in the infrastructure from discretionary funds, in spite of the fact that Council granted us permission during 2005/06 to take up a loan of R50 million for this purpose,” said Prof. Fourie.

The higher than expected surplus of about R26 million will be used among other things for the financing of infrastructure in order to further postpone the taking up of a loan.

In support of the drive to reposition the UFS nationally as a university that is successfully integrating excellence and diversity, R5 million will be made available from the surplus for this purpose.

The Council also approved the following allocations for 2008 for the key strategic pillars of a good practice budget for the university:

Information sources: R21,1 million
IT infrastructure: R3,5 million
Replacing expensive equipment: R7,05 million
Research: R18,1 million
Capital expenditure: R28,2 million
Maintenance capital assets: R18,2 million
Reserves: R6,3 million
Personal computers for the computer laboratory: R3,5 million

For the Qwaqwa Campus R2,5 million has been set aside for these issues.

In terms of strategic priorities R8 million was allocated for the academic clusters, R2 million for equitability, diversity and redress and R6 million for equity.

The projected income for 2008 will be R849 million, while the projected expenditure, excluding transfers, will be R694 million.

“Council further approved that discretionary strategic funds be largely voted to the further upgrading of the physical infrastructure, especially the Chemistry Building, the computer laboratory building, examination venues and the Joolkol,” said Prof. Fourie.

According to Prof. Fourie, funds have been reserved for the development of the academic clusters, as well as the continuation and acceleration of the transformation programme of the UFS.

“We have also managed to revise the conditions of employment of contract appointments and align it with the latest labour practices. The phasing in of the fringe benefits of this specific group of staff members will commence in 2008,” said Prof. Fourie.

Given the dependence of the income of the UFS on student numbers, a task team was formed last year to investigate the continued financial sustainability of the UFS. The core of this task team’s recommendations is:

to increase the third income stream by using the academic clusters as the main strategy; and to apply strategies such as the recruitment and extension of the postgraduate and foreign student corps, increase the income from donations and fundraising, etc.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
30 November 2007
 

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