South Africa

About groundWork

gW logoThe Healthy Energy Initiative in South Africa is coordinated by groundWork. groundWork is a non-profit environmental justice service and developmental organization working primarily in Southern Africa in the areas of Climate & Energy Justice, Coal, Environmental Health, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals, and Waste. groundWork has been working on health care issues with Health Care Without Harm since 1999.


TgroundWork_HealthImpactofCoal_Coverhe Healthy Energy Initiative in South Africa is aiming to build a broad-based collaboration of health organizations to advocate for healthier national energy policy and local practice in our health institutions, while also informing policymakers and empowering the public about the health repercussions of fossil fuel based energy generation.

The Initiative launched with a series of three roundtables on energy and health in 2013 in Cape Town (in collaboration with the University of Cape Town), Durban (in collaboration with Nelson Mandela School of Medicine of the University of KwaZulu Natal), and Johannesburg (engaging the Ministry of Health). The roundtables proved successful at generating interest within the health sector to undertake research and evidence-based advocacy for healthier energy choices.

groundWork_BlissofIgnoranceResponding to the attempts by electric utility Eskom and other fossil fuel companies’ attempts to gain exemptions from new clean air rules, groundWork commissioned a study and two videos to quantify the health burden from Eskom’s coal-fired power stations and to raise public awareness about the issue. The results of the study were disseminated through a report and video news release, both launched in 2014, which showed that 51% of deaths due to respiratory illness and 54% deaths due to cardiovascular disease, related to outdoor pollution in the pollution-burdened Highveld region, can be attributed to Eskom.

billboard_englishIn 2015 groundWork partnered with the Highveld Environmental Justice Network to launch a public awareness campaign on the coal industry and associated health problems in the region. The campaign consisted of community screenings of an award-winning documentary (“The Bliss of Ignorance”) , a billboard campaign located in the affected communities, and a social media campaign, all of which have received significant interest from the public, local elected officials, and health professionals.

PHASA2015bannerContinuing their engagement within the health sector, groundWork has facilitated the discussion of coal and health at several public health meetings. Most recently, the topic of healthy energy was prominently featured in the opening plenary session of the 2015 Public Health Association of South Africa conference. At the same conference, groundWork also organized a half-day workshop on climate change, energy choices, and air pollution.

Learn more in our posts about energy and health issues in South Africa.

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