University of South Africa: Advocating for safe and affordable energy


There are more than 600 000 energy-poor homes in South Africa – homes that depend on a mixture of solid fuels like wood or coal and flammable hydrocarbons such as paraffin as their primary energy sources. As a result, these homes often face high rates of accidental fire and spillages, paraffin ingestion and toxic fume inhalation. Therefore, the campaign alerts local communities to the dangers of paraffin and shares safe paraffin use and injury prevention tips for families.

The campaign was informed and inspired by Unisa’s Prof Ashley van Niekerk’s research on burns and energy poverty. The campaign team, led by Van Niekerk, comprises Noxolo Dumani, a Psychology Researcher and Coordinator of the No Paraffin! Campaign; Daniel Radebe, a social worker and doctoral candidate; Matlhogonolo Thupe, a master’s student and Psychology intern; and Duduzile Skosana, a Communications and Marketing Intern.

The Unisa team was joined by firefighters from Eldorado Park who demonstrated the prevention of fires and burns and the immediate responses to a home fire. The campaign team highlighted the do’s and don’ts of paraffin use while learners actively participated throughout the session.

The campaign will continue other centres in the South of Johannesburg with the intention of national dissemination in 2023.

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