Medicinal Plants could help poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa — World Bank report
World Bank news release
November 3, 2005
NAIROBI, KENYA, October 27, 2005— Dryland areas in Sub-Saharan Africa have a niche opportunity to use selected multipurpose medicinal plants to halt land degradation, and at the same time provide culturally acceptable healthcare, food, and a sustainable source of income by developing niche markets, according to the new World Bank report Capitalizing on the Bio-Economic Value of Multi-Purpose Medicinal Plants for the Rehabilitation of Drylands in Sub-Saharan Africa [(2,089KB PDF)].
“By combining indigenous knowledge and modern appropriate technology,” said Warren Evans, World Bank Director of Environment, “communities and researchers can identify sustainable land management practices to halt desertification. Communities can use Multipurpose Medicinal Plants to rehabilitate their degraded lands, and at the same time capture a greater share of the increased global value of medicinal plants; both of which will improve the quality of life for some of the most marginalized people in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Currently, 40 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population seek their living in 43 percent of the land mass identified as arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid. Approximately 25 percent of these lands are classified as degraded as a result of natural and human and livestock actions.
According to the report, responses to land degradation, inadequate healthcare, and identifying new sources of alternative incomes in Sub-Saharan Africa have met with limited success during recent decades. This study views the problem and solution holistically by showing that many indigenous plants in drylands have multipurpose biological and abiotic values that have not been fully exploited.
Google, MIT support $100 laptop for the world’s poorest children – October 6, 2005
Google, AMD, Brightstar, News Corporation, and Red Hat have signed on to MIT’s low-cost laptop initiative which aims to deliver a fully functional $100 machine to the developing world.
Cell phones may help “save” Africa – July 11, 2005
For all the talk about “making poverty history” through aid and debt relief at the G8 meeting in Scotland and among aging rock stars at Live8 concerts, perhaps the best tool for poverty alleviation on the continent is the mobile phone. Yes, that ubiquitous handheld device has done wonders for the poor around the world. Cell phones not only offer opportunity through voice services but emerging technologies that bring Internet access to phones, bypassing the need for a computer for connecting to the World Wide Web.
A long-term approach to helping the poor in Africa through private enterprise – May 24, 2005
This past Saturday millions of people watched the anti-poverty “Live 8” concerts held in London, Tokyo, Johannesburg, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Moscow, Philadelphia and Barrie, Canada. Live 8 coincides with tomorrow’s G8 summit of world leaders and aims to raise awareness of the need for aid, debt relief and fairer trade for Africa. While the cancellation of debt and delivery of aid to Africa is a noble and needed cause for a desparately poor continent, policy makers will need to ensure that funds are spent wisely to maximize the benefits for the largest number of Africans. In the past, aid to the developing world has met mixed reviews. Some of the largest recipients of aid are still some of the world’s poorest countries. What’s going on here? Have aid agencies just been throwing money into a hole?
Mobilizing seniors to fight poverty in Africa – September 9, 2005
For all the hype around sending billions of dollars in aid to Africa, it is important to remember that money must be spent wisely. Some of the largest recipients of aid in the past are still some of the world’s poorest countries thanks to corrupt regimes that consumed massive amounts of aid. Direct aid has not only bred corruption and the misallocation of resources away from those who need it most, but it has also fostered dependency and skewed the perceived value of goods and services. One program that could have potential for real poverty alleviation in Africa is a “Gray Corps” concept which would take advantage of the experience and expertise of aging Americans (aged 65 and older), a segment of the population that is expected to grow from approximately 35 million in 2000 to an estimated 71 million in 2030. This group could be key to addressing a number of looming social issues both here in the United States and abroad. The GrayCrops concept should be explored at the upcoming White House Conference on Aging, a meeting that occurs only once a decade and is meeting this year in Washington on December 11-14.
Developing sustainable business models that address the needs of the world’s poor – 25-May-2005
“We are in the middle of the Decade for African Traditional Medicine,” said Evans, “however, few actions on the ground have been made in Sub-Saharan Africa to develop either the production or marketing comparative advantage of indigenous medicinal plants.”
The study identifies a select number of endemic multipurpose medicinal plants for the Sahel/Sudanian Region and the Kalahari/Highveld that could change the situation. The report suggests that these species, if used in community-administered sustainable land management projects, could combine the agricultural aspects with product development, handling, and market training, thus helping reverse the land degradation trend and reduce the poverty associated with drylands.
“The global value of herbal medicines is estimated at $65 billion,” Evans added. “If the proposed actions for the African drylands were to capture only a small share of this value, even one percent, they could bring in $650 million, which could have a significant impact on both improving the quality of life and rehabilitating traditionally degraded lands.”
The report, in PDF format, can be downloaded here.
This is a modified press release from the World Bank.