Conserving biodiversity through preserving hunter gatherer communities Traditional Knowledge on medicine
Conserving biodiversity through preserving hunter gatherer communities Traditional Knowledge on medicine
The Ogiek community have a strong attachment to nature, their culture as well as their traditions. Some traditional knowledge aspects of the Ogiek date back to ancient times and have been passed down from generation to generation mainly orally through the use of song, dance or folktales. The Ogiek have been marginalized for a long time and this has led to a situation where some of them including the Ogiek of Mau have not had access to basic social amenities including hospitals. Yet these HG communities have survived these diseases. The Ogiek has been the use of traditional medicines to treat their ailments. A recent study for instance indicated that 98% of people from Ogiek of Mau use traditional medicines. One of the medicines used by the Ogiek of Mau is Engleromyces goetzei P. Henningsused to treat various diseases including stomach upsets, malaria and cold. It is with no doubt that rural communities still rely on the traditional medicine and healing practices while at the same time complimenting it with the conventional medicine.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, traditional communities including the Ogiek of Kenya resorted to the use of herbs in fighting the Covid-19 infections. The herbs associated with the treatment of fever, cold and flu having in great use to help improve population health in fighting the pandemic.
Whereas there has been no reported case of infection in most indigenous communities, the role of these traditional medicine cannot be ignored. It therefore informs the need to preserve these medicinal plants through the replanting them and empowering the traditional healers to secure rights over their medicines especially in benefit sharing where scientists are involved in investigations and inventions of drugs and medicine from the community forest.
Documentation of traditional medicines has been a great challenge as some traditional medicines have disappeared even before they are documented. This is despite the fact that such traditional medicines have much value to modern day medicines. There is also a lack of awareness on how traditional medicines work as well as their value. This leads to traditional medicines being dismissed as non-functional despite the potential benefits that they carry. Traditional healers and midwives have also not been recognized formally neither have they been registered hence there is no streamlined method for their operation.
The problems that face traditional knowledge in traditional medicines give rise to the need to solve the issue of documentation through creating a database of traditional medicine the Ogiek community of Mau. The proposed database is to contain information including the name of the plant (English, traditional and scientific names) that is the source of the medicine as well as the uses of the plant. Another solution to the issue is creating awareness on traditional medicines, supporting the registration of traditional healers and midwives as well as registering the intellectual property rights (IPRs) of the members of such communities. Doing this will work towards ensuring that that the traditional knowledge in traditional medicines is preserved overtime and that modern medicine also benefits from the knowledge that is yet to be discovered contained in traditional medicines.
The project seeks to reach community members of the Ogiek of Mau in touching the areas of Nakuru and Narok.

Project Snapshot

Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program (OPDP)
Area Of Work:
Grant Amount:
US$ 30,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 39,896.23
Project Number:
Currently under execution

SGP Country office contact

Ms. Nancy Chege
(254-20) 7624473
(254-20) 621076


UNDP, P.O. Box 30218
Nairobi, 00100