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Photo - Ben Bennett 2013
Photo - Ben Bennett 2013

Nine donkey carts, complete with donkeys, have been donated to five Devil's Claw harvester groups in remote communities of the Kavango Region, Namibia. The carts will assist the harvesters to transport the dried devil's claw to the nearest central buying point. Devil's claw is a medicinal plant whose extract is a known cure for rheumatism and arthritis. It is mainly harvested from the wild in Namibia and is commonly found in pharmacies around the world.

NRI has led a training scheme for communities in Namibia to encourage new Devil's Claw harvesting groups to continue harvesting the plant in a way that does not threaten its existence in the wild, but provides the harvesting groups with crucial income.

The training is part of the Indigenous Natural Products Activity of the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N) project, which is implemented at the local level by NRI's partner, the Namibia Nature Foundation under the guidance of local Co-ordinator, Fidelis Mpofu.

Ben Bennett, NRI's Project Director said; "Fidelis has done a great job working with harvesting groups in remote areas of the Kavango, introducing them to new sources of livelihood from wild harvesting through Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM).

Two donkey carts were received by the community at Katope Forest who received training in 2012 and have since produced nearly 4 tonnes of devil's claw, resulting in direct income to the harvesters of N$ 67,000 (£4,280).

This income is often the only source of income for the rural communities and provides the harvesters with the means to pay for health care, education, food, farming activities, or even to start a small business.

Headwoman in the community of Marenge, Rebecca Shaningwa, thanked MCA-N for its crucial support and said "Devil's claw is like a diamond to us; we will treasure this indigenous plant to sustain our livelihoods."

To date, MCA-N Primary Production Improvement Grants have supported more than 60 Producer and Processor Organisations to the value of N$ 1.6million (£102,200) with processing equipment, storage facilities and transportation to make harvesting and processing more effective and efficient, thereby ensuring resource sustainability and improved quality.