Monday, February 28, 2011

Workshops to Support Bushbuckridge Traditional Health Practitioners

From February 22-23, Kabir Bavikatte, Laureen Manuel, and Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) travelled to Bushbuckridge, South Africa, to hold workshops with members of the Bushbuckridge Traditional Health Practitioners Association. The workshops were organized with the support of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Management Committee and the Department for Environmental Affairs.

The first day of the workshop was held with the Executive Committee of the Bushbuckridge Traditional Healers Association and second day included over 120 members of the Association to discuss: the possible establishment of a traditional medicine plant nursery and carbon offset programme co-ordinated by the traditional health practitioners; to obtain input on draft guidelines for the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Regulations that are currently being developed by Natural Justice and the University on Cape Town on behalf of the Department of Environmental Affairs; and to discuss the terms of a non-disclosure agreement between the traditional healers and a local business, Silk Collections, regarding the use of the healers' traditional knowledge. The Association members agreed to enter into the non-disclosure agreement with Silk Collections, which will allow testing to be conducted on some of the Healers' traditional knowledge with the aim of developing various cosmetics. The non-disclosure agreement prohibits Silk Collections to pass on the traditional knowledge to third parties and ensures that should a cosmetic product be found to be viable, a benefit sharing agreement between the local business and the traditional healers must be entered into. Natural Justice has been assisting the Bushbuckridge Traditional Healers Association and Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Management Committee in their discussions with Silk Collections to date.

In 2009, the Traditional Health Practitioners of Bushbuckridge developed a biocultural community protocol outlining some of their challenges, among other things, which since that time they have been working to address. Natural Justice will continue to work with the Traditional Health Practitioners of Bushbuckridge and the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Management Committee as part of its nascent African Biocultural Rights Programme.

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