Natural environments in and around the South African coastal city of Durban provide goods and services to the national economy that amount to an estimated US$ 350 million (R 4.2 billion) each year.
Small-scale, community-managed hydro power schemes in remote rural Kenya function well if they are run by strong leaders, and have firm rules for how the scheme should be managed. When members of the mini-grid system know they will be disconnected from the grid for breaking those rules, they tend to cooperate more willingly.
For the average rural Kenyan, having a fully charged mobile phone isn't just a luxury that allows them to make phone calls. It’s a complete office for running their small businesses. So when people have access to an electricity source that allows them to keep their phone batteries charged, it means the entire local economy benefits.
The mountainous countryside in Kenya is ideally suited for small-scale hydro power plants, particularly for communities that are too far from the national electrical grid, or where the infrastructure and connection costs are too high. But the government of this East African country has not exploited its hydro power opportunities, something which environmental economist Mary Karumba hopes to change as she returns to government service after completing her doctoral studies in South Africa.
Having competitions between staff, appointing water-saving ‘champions’ in your office block, or recognising people for their efforts to use energy more sparingly: these are small but powerful ways that cities can encourage people to cut their water and electricity use. Now, behavioural economists at the University of Cape Town’s Environmental Policy Research Unit (EPRU) are about to embark on a three-year collaboration with Cape Town’s utility managers, to see how they can implement these ideas across the city, and get them written into municipal policy.
There are many ways for city utility departments to get people to voluntarily reduce their water use during a time of drought and water shortages. Some are positive, ‘carrot’ approaches; others might be ‘stick’ approaches to enforce certain behaviours. Now, the City of Cape Town is working with behavioural economists to find an evidence-based answer to which methods are most effective.
A team of behavioural economists has an important message for City of Cape Town’s water managers, who are currently implementing tight water restrictions after three years of drought in the region: if the city publicly praises individuals and households for their water saving efforts, this will get people to voluntarily contribute to even greater water-wise behaviour.
The people of Cape Town are being given a chance to tell city managers just how much they value the natural green spaces, manicured parks, sports fields, and street trees in their neighbourhoods. And what they say may help park authorities decide how to prioritise their spending, at a time when there is growing pressure to develop open green spaces for housing or business opportunities.
CAPE TOWN: The single most effective thing that South Africans can do to reduce their energy use related to heating water in their homes, is to switch off hot water cylinders half an hour before they are most likely to bath or shower. Those people who do switch their cylinders on and off during the day, as an energy saving measure, tend to turn them off after the geysers have refilled and reheated, which is wasteful of energy.
The South African node of the EfD network, the Environmental Economics Policy Research Unit at the University of Cape Town is working towards influencing South African policy in four key areas: climate change, biodiversity conservation, marine fisheries, and energy. One of the recent studies identified mixed farming as a crucial strategy to adapt to climate change, particularly for small farmers.
Development-focused eco-tourism partnerships between local communities and private enterprises are more likely to succeed if the communities living on the edge of protected areas are able to make direct links between the conservation of an area, and their own tangible benefits, the IUCN’s World Parks Congress heard recently.
On Wednesday 23 October, EPRU hosted the EfD Policy day at Commodore Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa. The policy day brought together policy makers from various governmental levels, practitioners, NGOs, international and national researchers.
In a brief interview with UNU-Wider Wisdom Akpalu, Associate Professor of Economics at SUNY-Farmingdale, NY, shares his view on the effectiveness of development knowledge aid and the impact of the “Gothenburg mafia” on Africa. A maybe misleading expression which relates to Wisdom himself and his former PhD colleagues who studied at the Environmental Economics Unit of the Economics Department at Gothenburg University.
Within the unique wetland area Mpumalanga Lake District lies the site of a proposed, and controversial, opencast coal mine, the Lusthof colliery. It will require a preliminary ‘set-aside’ of about 70 million South African rands.
Martine Visser and Jane Turpie advised the Legal Resource Centre and AWARD (NGOs working on behalf of the public and especially poor stakeholders such as farm workers)
ESKOM (national Energy Service Provider) has contracted Martine Visser, Grant Smith (masters student) and Steven Davies to do research on consumer understanding of billing practices.
In 1994 the Khomani San “bushmen” community successfully reclaimed land inside and outside the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Yet despite ownership of a portion of land still part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the Khomani San community has never directly benefited from tourism revenues from entrance fees.
Reporting to people about their own and the average consumption of electricity caused all kinds of households in suburbs of Cape Town to significantly reduce their electricity consumption. This is the conclusion of initial research results from EfD South Africa. Households in the middle income suburbs were the most responsive, followed by lower income suburbs. The upper income suburbs responded the least.
South Africa´s anchovy catch is predominantly used for fishmeal, despite the fact that a redirection of the resource towards human consumption could provide nutrition for the rural poor, create employment in coastal regions, and develop new opportunities in the fisheries industry. EfD researchers are sought out by the Marine and Coastal Management, Department of Environmental Affairs, to participate in an inter-disciplinary investigation of the feasibility of utilizing a resource portion of anchovy landings for direct human consumption.