UKZN Medical Student Honoured by Mail & Guardian

UKZN Medical Student Honoured by <em>Mail & Guardian</em>
Mr Kapil Narain is among the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans.Click here for isiZulu version

Sixth-year Medical student, Mr Kapil Narain is among the 200 Young South Africans honoured by the Mail & Guardian newspaper.

This year, there were more than 8 000 nominations. One of 22 people listed in the health sector, Narain is also the youngest in this category.

‘These are young people under the age of 35 who are shaping South Africa and who are going to be instrumental in the future. The accolade bears great testimony to all the hard work these individuals undertake to make a positive impact on a society fraught with numerous challenges and difficulties,’ said Mail & Guardian Chief Executive Officer, Mr Hoosain Karjieker.

Narain, a multi-award-winning youth leader, is driven by the need to improve health and challenge the status quo. He has convened awareness campaigns to address TB stigma, mental health, HIV, and gender-based violence and is passionate about translational medical research.

He received the Abe Bailey travel award last year, which enabled him to engage with leaders at the African Union, and in London, Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburgh. He was also awarded a scholarship to the World Health Assembly, in Geneva, Switzerland, where he advocated for universal health coverage.

‘I am absolutely honoured. This is an affirmation of my endeavours, in the spirit of societal upliftment and Ubuntu, to raise the banner of health by harnessing the vehicles of advocacy, academia and leadership. I am grateful to my family, colleagues and academics at UKZN who constantly inspire me,’ said Narain.

The Mail & Guardian list has become a hallmark of young people who are at the top of their field. Previous recipients include Trevor Noah, Caster Semenya, Mamokgethi Phakeng, Lauren Beukes and Lady Skollie.

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Alumnus Holly Rey’s Song You is Certified Triple Platinum

UKZN Alumnus Holly Rey’s Song <em>You</em> is Certified Triple Platinum
UKZN alumnus, Holly “Rey” Wasserfall. Click here for isiZulu version

House musician, Ms Holly Wasserfall, aka, Holly Rey was pleasantly surprised when she found out that her song You had been certified triple platinum.

She said that her management team including her mom hid the news from her for almost two weeks.

‘I was called to a meeting at Content Connect Africa by Banele Tshambo. I had zero suspicion that this was going down. Well done to everyone who played a part in the success of this track,’ she said.

In celebration of Heritage Month, Wasserfall released a track called Home that focuses on how incredible South Africa is. All proceeds from the song will go to Warrior 500, an organisation that is raising money for local communities around the Kruger National Park who rely on tourism as their sole source of income. ‘This is something that is so close to my heart and I am so proud and excited to be able to contribute,’ she said.

The track is available on all digital platforms: https://orcd.co/hollyreyhome.

The video is also on YouTube: https://youtu.be/tsX0dCOFIZQ.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Scientist Appointed to Editorial Advisory Board of International Journal

UKZN Scientist Appointed to Editorial Advisory Board of International Journal
Award winning pharmaceutical chemistry scientist, Professor Beatriz de la Torre.Click here for isiZulu version

Award winning scientist in Green Solid-Phase Peptide Synthesis, UKZN’s Professor Beatriz de la Torre, has been appointed as an Editorial Advisory Board member for the ACS Omega journal.

ACS Omega, a journal of the American Chemical Society, recently edited a special virtual issue entitled Chemistry in Africa: Open & Global. This compilation showcases the substantial scientific contributions of researchers based in Africa, thereby highlighting the high quality of scientific research carried out on the continent.

One of the articles featured in the journal is by de la Torre and other UKZN members in collaboration with an Egyptian team: Lysine Scanning of Arg10-Teixobactin: Deciphering the Role of Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Residues.

She commented, ‘The ACS Omega journal is an open-access journal with an excellent projection. It is in its fifth year and has already reached the first quartile. The launch of this Chemistry in Africa: Open & Global issue is an excellent initiative to promote African science and we are excited about this publication.’

De la Torre graduated in Chemistry from the University of Barcelona (Spain) in 1989 and defended her PhD in Chemistry from the same university in 1993. The experimental part of the thesis was conducted at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientí­ cas (CSIC, Spain) and in the Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry Department at Loughborough University of Technology (United Kingdom).

From 1994 to 2002, she served as Director of the Oligonucleotide Synthesis Facility at CSIC and then Associate Researcher at the same institution. In 2003, she joined Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona) in the Department of Proteomics and Protein Chemistry as a junior lecturer and Associate Researcher.

In 2014 and 2015, she served as Academic Coordinator at Yachay Tech, a new university in Ecuador. During 2014, she was also appointed Honorary Research Fellow at UKZN (School of Health Sciences). In 2017, she was appointed Research Professor in the UKZN School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences.

To date, de la Torre has published 190 peer-reviewed articles in international journals. She is a co-inventor of three patents and has presented at many international conferences. In 2019, she and A-rated scientist Professor Fernando Albericio were the recipients of $25 000 from the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute Pharmaceutical Roundtable (GCIPR) to advance green chemistry research in the pharmaceutical sciences.

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photograph: Supplied


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Cuban-Trained Medical Students join UKZN for Clinical Training

Cuban-Trained Medical Students join UKZN for Clinical Training
Cuban-trained Medical students welcomed at UKZN.

Eighty-five Medical students who underwent five years of training in Cuba have been welcomed back “home” at UKZN.

The College of Health Sciences (CHS) hosted a welcoming and orientation programme for the students in the Nelson Mandela-Fidel Castro Cuban Collaboration Programme (NMFCCP) and will now undergo 18 months of clinical training at KwaZulu-Natal hospitals.

The NMFCCP forms part of a bi-national agreement between South Africa and Cuba that was signed by former presidents Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro. It aims to alleviate the shortage of medical skills in South Africa.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the College Professor Busisiwe Ncama, warmly welcomed the students and assured them that UKZN will walk together with them through this 18-month journey. ‘Your arrival comes at a time when the province of KwaZulu-Natal is experiencing high rates of COVID-19 infection. We are excited to welcome you as doctors who have been specifically trained in primary health-care delivery, health promotion, health education and the prevention of diseases. We know that preventative medicine is key when managing COVID-19 infections. We have a lot to learn from you so that we can build a strong and sustainable public health system in South Africa,’ said Ncama.

Dean of the School of Clinical Medicine Professor Ncoza Dlova encouraged the students to work hard, remain focused, and to seek help if needed. ‘It is not how you start the race but how you end it that will determine if you win or lose,’ she said.

In his address, Head and Dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health, Professor Mosa Moshabela said, ‘We recognise that you were trained in Spanish but you now need to come up to speed with English and isiZulu which will assist you to better advocate for your patients. Moreover, the new normal posed by COVID-19 requires all of us to adhere to precautionary guidelines to protect ourselves and those around us.’

Director of Professional Services in the College, Professor Fanie Botha noted that the students will be rotated through clinical blocks such as surgical practice, obstetrics and gynaecology, internal medicine, child health, primary care, and mental health. The training will take place in teaching hospitals accredited by the Health Professions Council of South Africa through the Decentralised Clinical Training Platform, which uses the Community Based Training in Primary Health Care Model. This platform is a collaborative initiative by UKZN and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health. 

The orientation also focused on mental health and student support services provided by the College.

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Supplied


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Durban International Film Festival Announces Award Winners during Closing Night

Durban International Film Festival Announces Award Winners during Closing Night
Highlights of this year’s DIFF awards.

After a drive-in screening of the closing film Dust, a thriller by Pieter du Plessis, the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) award winners were announced during a pre-recorded ceremony.

The festival is hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) in the College of Humanities.

In the shorts category, the judges emphasised how impressed they were with the overall quality of all 23 entries. The Best Short Filmwas Exam directed by Sonia K Hadad. The animation Ruby and Roach by Erentia Bedeker received the awards for Best African and Best South African Short Film. The judges commended the innocence of the film that does away with preconceived ideas.

Sam Soko was awarded Best Documentary for Softie. ‘It is increasingly important that we not only share our stories but protect the artists that do so,’ he said.

Influence, directed by Diana Neille and Richard Poplak, scooped the award for Best South African Documentary.The jury commended themfor bringing a journalistic knife-edge to film.

The opening film This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection by Lemohang Jerimiah Mosese received the award for Artistic BraveryandBest Direction, with the Best Actress Award going to the late Mary Twala.

Film Stam (The Tree) directed by Louw Venter won the Best South African Film AwardThe Best CinematographyAward went to Take Me Somewhere Nice by Ena Sendijarevic. Farewell Amor scooped two awards for Best Screenplay and Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwirewas named Best Actor, the first award that he has ever received as an actor. In his speech, he noted the profound impact that the late, great Joseph Shabalala had on his career.

The Awards for Best Editingand Best Film were awarded to Force of Habit a film from Finland, directed by seven directors and edited by nine editors. The directors are Kirsikka Saari, Elli Toivoniemi, Anna Paavilainen, Alli Haapasalo, Reetta Aalto, Jenni Toivoniemi and Miia Tervo.

Jawad Rhalib received the Amnesty International Human Rights Award for FADMA: Even Ants Have Wings. Navlia RawHeath from Amnesty International Durban said that, ‘the film was chosen because of its fascinating depiction of the passive resistance and gentle yet firm action towards changing deep-seated prejudices about stereotypical roles of the sexes.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


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Humanities Students part of DIFF Film Discussions

Humanities Students part of DIFF Film Discussions
Some of the UKZN student films featured during the Durban International Film Festival and isiPhethu industry programme.

Seven students from the School of Arts together with staff members Dr Michelle Stewart (Digital Arts), Mr Melikhaya Noqamza (Digital Arts) and Mr Mzwandile Makhanya (Media Studies) were part of the Durban International Film Festival virtual discussion alongside George Mason University, United States.

Students, faculty and staff from both universities collaborated on a number of events and panels, sharing ideas, documentary, animated, and fiction films, and commitments to collaborative arts and social justice.

Project Officer at the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA), Mr Sakhile Gumede and Film at Mason’s Production Manager, Ms Abbesi Akhamie co-ordinated the multifaceted programme for Creative Arts. The film discussion was part of the isiPhethu industry programme that aims to entertain, educate, train and up-skill, and instil confidence in young aspirant film-makers and share information that is relevant to the film industry to empower young people.

The UKZN student participants were Ms Mbalenhle Mbatha, Mr Teboho Makopo, Mr Ndumiso Msomi, Ms Kayleigh Paige Gemmell, Mr Mnotho Msweli, Mr Limo Velaphi and Mr Sfundo Cele, who discussed and answered questions about their projects.

Digital Arts lecturer Stewart said, ‘The show reel of the films from both UKZN and George Mason University were put up on the DIFF social media platforms for everyone to view beforehand. The films were strong and there were significant synergies between the two show reels. As institutions, we agreed that this is a relationship that we would like build on in the future. It was a dynamic and exciting experience for everyone.’

Gemmell said the programme is important for students, ‘because it is a site for learning, growth and inspiration. The festival also provided a platform to showcase work that might normally go unrecognised, ultimately giving us access to an international network of interested and like-minded individuals.’

Films featured and discussed during the programme were:

•    Ilobolo

Director: Mzwandile Makhanya

Editors: Teboho Makopo and Ndumiso Msomi

Production Manager: Mbalenhle Mbatha

•    The Decision

Director: Mbalenhle Mbatha

Editors: Mbalenhle Mbatha, Teboho Makopo and Ndumiso Msomi

•    Anthropomorphous

Director/ head animator: Limo Velapi

•    The Next Few Months

Director/ animator: Kayleigh Gemmell

•    Lost in technology

Director/ animator: Limo Velapi

•    Cayenne Crusade (Sand and spice stop motion animation)

Director/ animator: Melikhaya Noqamza

•    The YinYan Crisis

Director: Mnotho Msweli

•    A Day In The Life

Director: Sfundo Cele

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


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ALERT: COVID-19 Remains a Serious Threat

ALERT: COVID-19 Remains a Serious Threat
The University community is encouraged to observe all COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

As South Africa and the rest of the world continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for the University community to note that the Coronavirus remains a serious threat to health and life despite the country having recently moved to Level 1 in its COVID-19 strategy.

Health and safety protocols must continue to be strictly adhered to if a resurgence of the disease is to be averted.

Level 1 has allowed all students to return to campus and residences, and for most sectors of the country’s economy to be revived. The decreasing number of daily new infections informed this decision. On 29 September, this stood at 903 new infections and 188 deaths.

However, across the world, several countries are experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 infections - a deadly disease for which there is still no cure or vaccine.

Europe is experiencing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases after successfully slowing down outbreaks early in the year. Countries such as Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Montenegro and North Macedonia had higher case numbers in August than they did earlier in the year.

France, the UK, Poland, The Netherlands and Spain are dealing with the much-feared second wave and have started implementing measures to curb it.

UKZN has done all it could to ensure the health and safety of those who returned to campus in the past few months. We have to uphold and maintain these efforts.

The safety and protection of our staff and students remain paramount as the virus is still active and a serious threat in South Africa.

We must continue to observe all health and safety protocols. These include:

•    Wearing a mask at all times;

•    Maintaining physical distancing;

•    Regularly washing or sanitising hands; and

•    Restrictions on large gatherings.

For information on prevention measures, please visit: https://vc.ukzn.ac.za/covid-19.

You can also download and use the COVID Alert SA App: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFLJRr1Dr7k&feature=youtu.be.

 Words: Normah Zondo

Image: Supplied


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UKZN Launches Intern Mentorship Programme

UKZN Launches Intern Mentorship Programme
School of Clinical Medicine and Investec launched an intern mentorship programme to capacitate junior doctors in KwaZulu-Natal.

UKZN’s School of Clinical Medicine launched an Intern Mentorship Programme in partnership with Investec on 16 September through a webinar with around 180 attendees made up of Medical interns, academics and mentors.

The brain-child of Professor Ncoza Dlova, Dean of the School, the mentorship programme aims to support KwaZulu-Natal interns through a series of monthly workshops related to career guidance; work-life orientation; financial, physical and mental wellness; personal development; motivational talks; and mentorship. This platform will also help to forge relationships for interns to collaborate with and support one another.

Addressing attendees, Dlova called on senior members of the medical fraternity to be exemplary mentors: ‘Let us not be hyenas that destroy, cripple and devour the souls of these junior doctors, but let us support, guide and nurture them in the best possible way, creating positive experiences and role modelling for our potential future leaders. As the saying goes, ‘There is only one thing better than reaching the top in life: Reaching down and helping someone else rise to the same level.’ She advised the interns to be the best version of themselves by working hard and showing respect, compassion and dedication to their patients.

Dlova added that the programme will be extended nationally and that the South African Committee of Deans has embraced the initiative, with Investec being willing to assist with national implementation.

Dlova is also planning to acknowledge exemplary interns, medical officers, registrars and consultants by awarding certificates of appreciation to the top five medical and nursing staff who epitomise the characteristics of a good doctor or health care practitioner.

Guest speaker, Dr Vuyani Mhlomi, reminded mentees to stay true to who they are, be resilient and equip themselves with knowledge and experience.

Alumnus Professor Salome Maswine advised the interns to choose their mentors and friends well and encouraged them to consider becoming clinician-scientists if that route appeals to them. She commented, ‘if the research question does not interest you it will never end in searching for the answer.’

University of Cape Town graduate and intern Dr Zolelwa Sifumba, who was part of the founding committee, shared some of the challenges faced by junior doctors and noted that a lack of support and mentorship almost drowned her at one point in her career.

The launch was attended by Heads of Disciplines in the clinical fraternity who presented specialisation options such as Psychiatry (Professor Bonga Chiliza); General Surgery (Professor Bugsy Singh); Neurosurgery (Dr Basil Enicker): Anaesthetics (Dr Dean Gopalan); and Critical Care (Dr Thomas Hardcastle). Psychiatrist Dr Suvira Ramlall’s presentation focused on investing in one’s own mental health as a doctor and Dr Sizwe Zulu shared a business overview of private practice.

UKZN Intern Committee member, Dr Veena Singaram invited interns to work with the committee and introduced the new Intern webpage with resources and mentorship opportunities: https://scm.ukzn.ac.za/intern-info/.

Comments from the participants included: ‘Mentorship is critical in shaping young doctors, the future of medicine and creating and sustaining something with far reaching effects on our world that is so broken and in need of healing’ and ‘I wish we had this when we were interns.’

Young doctor Mduduzi Mthembu said, ‘I am so glad I joined this Zoom meeting... this feels like an investment in self; we are really inspired to become better interns.’

Participants were also treated to performances and exhibitions by poet Mr Stanley Sekhula (sixth-year Medical student), vocalist and guitarist Mr Sphamandla Sibisi (fourth-year), photographer Mr Thabo Langa (fourth-year), artists Mr Kwanele Memela and Mr Leonard Da Rocha (fourth-year) and musician Dr Senzeni Tshuma, alumnus and intern in Pietermaritzburg.

An extract from Sekhula’s poem:

But it is the same people that constantly verbalises words that,
Crushes our souls and break our bones,
These words are so cold like winter morning, every morning before we go to work,
We choose which bottle we are going to drink next,
Not because we like but because it hurts less than these words,
That came from seniors who were supposed to rejuvenate our souls,
But instead they set fire into our dreams, it burns,
and these scars are hard to heal.

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Supplied


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Lekgotla Promotes African Entrepreneurship Through Technology

Lekgotla Promotes African Entrepreneurship Through Technology
UKZN academic, Dr Thea van der Westhuizen.

The Fourth Annual Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) Lekgotla and Studentpreneurs’ Indaba was held virtually in the context of COVID-19.

Arranged under the auspices of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and Universities South Africa (USAf), the five-day gathering from 14 to 18 September brought together academics and students from South Africa and other countries under the theme #AfroTech - African Entrepreneurship through Technology. The opening address was delivered by Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande.

Amongst those leading the online presentations and discussions was UKZN academic, Dr Thea van der Westhuizen. An authority in the field of entrepreneurship development, she received an international award in 2018 at The Innovative Youth Incubator Awards held in Washington DC for Excellence in reaching out to the community and Best Youth Development Organisation in KwaZulu-Natal, the latter for her work in the organisation SHAPE (Shifting Hope, Activating Potential Entrepreneurship).

Since its inception, van der Westhuizen has convened the EDHE Community of Practice (CoP) for Entrepreneurship in Academia. The CoP represents researchers and academics who support entrepreneurship development through teaching, learning and research across disciplines.

Van der Westhuizen chaired a session of the Lekgotla on sharing best practice. The presenters included Professor Paul Jones (Professor in Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation, Swansea University, Wales), Ms Relebohile Moeng, Director and Founder of Afri-Berry (a range of naturally-based skin and haircare products), and Professor Keolebogile Shirley Motaung, Assistant Dean: Research, Innovation and Engagement, Tshwane University of Technology, and Founder and CEO: Global Health Biotech (Pty) Ltd. She also provided a final-day summation and recommendations arising from the conference proceedings, focused on taking the vision of the CoP forward in a post-COVID-19 environment.

Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research at UKZN took part in a panel discussion on Entrepreneurial Universities’ Baseline Research - unpacking the research findings and strategy for integration into the plan for entrepreneurship and innovation at the respective universities. He was joined on the panel by Dr Robert Martin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Operations at the University of Venda, and Professor Sibusiso Moyo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement at the Durban University of Technology.

On the final day of the Lekgotla, van der Westhuizen also participated in the 15th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ECIE). This event has been held in Italy, Northern Ireland, France, Belgium, Portugal, and Finland and is generally attended by participants from more than 40 countries, attracting a combination of academic scholars, practitioners and individuals engaged in various aspects of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching and research. The 15th European Conference from 16 to 18 September was hosted by Università degli Studi Internazionali di Roma (UNINT), Italy under the Chairpersonship of Professor Alessandro De Nisco.

Van der Westhuizen delivered a research paper on The influence of technology on entrepreneurial self-efficacy development for online business start-up in developing nations.

‘As a country and as a continent, we have the opportunity to lead the way in developing new technologies and start-ups to meet the specific needs and challenges of the era we are in. Hosting and participating in these forums is testimony to the status of South African universities’ academic research capability, and to the capability and respect accorded to the country’s scholars,’ she said.

Words: Derek Griffin

Photograph: Supplied


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Book Co-Edited by UKZN Alumnus Explores Future of Higher Education Post COVID-19

Book Co-Edited by UKZN Alumnus Explores Future of Higher Education Post COVID-19
Professor Dan Remenyi with his book, The University of the Future: Responding to COVID-19.Click here for isiZulu version

Will university education ever be the same after the COVID-19 pandemic?

That is the focus of a book titled: The University of the Future: Responding to COVID-19, co-edited by Professor Dan Remenyi. 

The book explores the many solutions for this problem and how moving forward, universities such as UKZN will respond not only to the pandemic but to the many years of uncertainty ahead.

‘COVID-19 has changed many aspects of society and one of the most affected is education. Universities are rapidly moving to online programmes but it is not clear that this is the answer to the problem,’ said Remenyi.

The prolific author is the co-editor and a contributor to the newly published book that features expertise from vice-chancellors, academics, and consultants. It is a collection of broad views from 32 authors from 17 countries on five continents.

Remenyi says the book is of value to both students and prospective students and their parents as it examines a range of issues that everyone should be aware of when undertaking university studies.

‘For some years universities have been under pressure to modify their approach to teaching and research. The COVID-19 pandemic is triggering profound changes in how universities function and forcing them to think more carefully about a number of aspects of their operation,’ he said.

The book - available in both print and PDF format - is available at https://www.academic-bookshop.com/ and on Amazon.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photographs: Supplied


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Study on Livestock-Derived Food Examines Complexities in Sustainable Food Production

Study on Livestock-Derived Food Examines Complexities in Sustainable Food Production
Cattle on a farm in South Africa.

Researchers collaborating in the international Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS) transdisciplinary research programme recently published an article in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD) that explores the livestock-derived food (LDF) system in South Africa.

SHEFS is an inter-institutional project funded by the Wellcome Trust’s Our Planet, Our Health Programme that focuses on the intersection of the environment, food systems and health, with researchers in South Africa, India and the United Kingdom investigating food systems currently under significant pressure from demographic changes, shifts in dietary patterns, land use changes and urbanisation, among other pressures.

These global food systems, which researchers point out are not resolving hunger or rising levels of obesity, and waste of up to a third of what is produced, are straining against planetary boundaries, with LDF systems under especial scrutiny.

Authors of the JAFSCD article include UKZN alumnus Mr Kevin Queenan of the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), UKZN researchers on SHEFS Drs Nafiisa Sobratee and Rashieda Davids, and Professors Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi, Michael Chimonyo and Rob Slotow, as well as Professor Bhavani Shankar from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and Dr Barbara Häsler of the RVC.

Using systems thinking and a conceptual systems dynamics model, they illustrate the complexity of the LDF system in South Africa and identify vicious and virtuous cycles, feedback loops, and links to the Sustainable Development Goals.

They explain that providing healthy and nutritious food produced in an environmentally sustainable manner to all people at all times is a complex problem, with often unsuccessful policies that tend towards a narrow focus and quick fix.

The key findings arise from an analysis of a complex system that is undergoing considerable change as a result of an increasing population and demand for food. The legacies of apartheid also mean that large supermarkets and fast-food chains, and large-scale production systems remain dominant, while emerging food producers who lack access to land and skills struggle to enter the formal food chain despite support from government.

Researchers highlight that much of South Africa’s large agricultural land area is better suited to grazing than crop production. They also point to threats to local production, including cheaper imports as part of complex trade deals, frequent droughts, and a changing climate.

In the context of the recent listeriosis outbreak, which posed serious risks to vulnerable population groups such as young children and those affected by HIV/AIDS, the issues of food safety and foodborne disease surveillance also came under the spotlight.

Proving the strength of a transdisciplinary systems approach, this research could aid in the study of similarly dynamic food systems elsewhere and provides a reference for policymakers and stakeholders in South Africa to better understand the complexity and causal links between key elements in the LDF system, and the vicious cycles and feedbacks.

The researchers suggest that sustainable production of safe, healthy and nutritious LDF, with equitable access and just distribution, will require deep structural changes in the South African system. They hope their research will guide policy towards more integrated and durable solutions, highlight possible unintended consequences, and mitigate the risk of system destabilisation that may accompany the necessary deep structural change.

Words:Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Kevin Queenan


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