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Livelihood Off Sustainable Use of the Land

Devils Claw harvesters at Sachona Community Forest
Devils Claw harvesters at Sachona Community Forest

A large portion of Northern Namibians derive their income from the harvesting of the Devils Claw plant. It requires harvesters to camp away from home for months on end while they carefully remove parts of the roots of the Devils Claw plant. Devils ClawThe plant needs to be harvested sustainably to ensure that it can regrow and provide something to harvest in the years to come.

According to the National Botanical Research Institute, “Devil’s claw, known for its effective treatment of arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, probably has one of the oldest histories in the commercialisation of any indigenous natural plant product in Namibia, starting in the 1960s.”

Alfred Tumelo from the Sachona Community Forest and Eben Tjiteere from IRDNC
Alfred Tumelo from the Sachona Community Forest and Eben Tjiteere from IRDNC

The IRDNC website states that “Approximately, 91,000 people live in the Zambezi Region, making up about four percent of Namibia’s population. Though official unemployment figures for the region are 28%, the majority of the population are subsistence farmers who make their living near the banks of the Zambezi, Kwando and Chobe Rivers.”

Devils Claw HarvestAt Sachona Community Forest in Madume North, which is found in the Zambezi Region you will find that most of the people working as harvester of the Devils Claw plant are women. The Role of Woman in Natural Resource Management report from 2010 stated that “in Southern Africa, more than two thirds of women depend on land and other natural resources for their livelihood”

The income derived from the harvesting of Devils Claw is a small income, but an income no less. MYD Earth travelled to the Zambezi Region to attend a meeting held between IRDNC and the Devils Claw harvesters. The meeting was held in rural Namibia, under a tree. Take a listen to the stories of the Devils Claw harvesters, on the MYD Earth Show here: