Gender roles in sustainable use and practices of medicinal plants in Urban Districts of Morogoro and Iringa Tanzania

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Sokoine University of Agriculture.


This study was designed to assess the role played by gender in sustainable use and practices of medicinal plants, in urban districts of Morogoro and Iringa, Tanzania. Data were collected through social survey methods through interviews with herbalists (traditional healers and medicinal plant sellers) and key informants such as Forest extension officers and botanists. A list of medicinal plants given by each informant was compiled. The information gathered included local plant names, type of disease treated, parts of plant used, preparation methods, dosage and other aspects of medicinal plants including practices. The Statistical Package for Social Science Programme (SPSS) including content analysis, chi-square and logistic regression were used in data analysis. The results indicated that out of 246 and 177 medicinal plants recorded in Morogoro and Iringa urban districts respectively, only 108 and 88 were botanically identified. The recorded medicinal plants cure about 72 and 57 diseases and other complications in Morogoro and Iringa urban districts respectively. Male herbalists from the two districts prefer to use roots while female herbalists prefer to use barks. Most male and female herbalists usually harvest parts of medicinal plants outside their districts and traditionally prepare plant medicine using variety of methods like mixture of boiling and grinding. Dosages were not specific for most male and female herbalists and side effects were unknown. Significant differences were observed in the roles played by gender in sustainable use of medicinal plants. Most female than male supported much the idea of training in domestication of medicinal plants or establishment of community based woodlots and involvement in different research on medicinal plants. The medicinal plant practices were found to be gender dependent. While in Morogoro urban District men dominated the practice, in Iringa urban District women were dominant.iii dependent. While in Morogoro urban District men dominated the practice, in Iringa urban District women were dominant. From the results it is concluded that male and female herbalists arc very important people in providing primary health care to the urban societies. However, medicinal plant practices do not always depend on gender but are rather influenced much by social-economic and cultural factors that discourage women to participate fully. In order to integrate medicinal plants practices with the health care system in Tanzania it is recommended to; organize public awareness programmes to all herbalists to improve their understanding in aspects connected with medicinal plants and ensure sustainable use of the resources, sensitize most herbalists to change their altitude, start cooperating and pass their knowledge to young generations to sustain their traditional knowledge. Further studies arc recommended to domesticate the potential medicinal plants in home gardens, determine their efficacy and safe ways of administering medicinal plant.



Medicinal plants, Gender sustainable, Gender, Iringa, Morogoro, Gender roles