International Development, Community, and Environment

Title

Medicinal Plants and Health Sovereignty in Badakhshan, Afghanistan: Diversity, Stewardship, and Gendered Knowledge

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Medicinal plants are fundamental to health sovereignty, providing vital healthcare and livelihood options for rural mountain communities. We conducted 284 interviews with 416 participants in Badakhshan Province of northeastern Afghanistan focusing on the collection, use, sale, and management of medicinal plants. Participants identified 48 plants within 45 categories of treatment and prevention. The greatest number of plants were used to treat hypertension (14 plants), followed by kidney aids (12), analgesics (11), gastrointestinal aids (11), and dermatological aids (9). Comparisons with hospital records suggest that medicinal plants treat common ailments and preempt the need for some hospital visits. In addition, medicinal plants provide a source of livelihood for approximately 25% of participants. Many gatherers are concerned about the impacts of harvesting on medicinal plant resources. Collaborative research and knowledge exchange are necessary to enhance health sovereignty and community-based stewardship that sustain medicinal plant diversity in the context of increasing commercialization.

Publication Title

Human Ecology

Publication Date

12-1-2021

Volume

49

Issue

6

First Page

809

Last Page

829

ISSN

0300-7839

DOI

10.1007/s10745-021-00270-9

Keywords

Badakhshan Province, Indigenous ecological knowledge, Intergenerational knowledge transmission, market opportunity, medicinal plants, Northeastern Afghanistan, Pamir Mountains

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