Graduated Masters Student
Commercialisation of plant products in two conservancies in north-western Namibia: Resource use change and social impacts
Supervisors: Assoc Prof Rachel Wynberg and Karen Nott
I grew up on a farm in Namibia and this is where I developed a love of nature and the outdoors. After finishing school in Windhoek, I moved to South Africa and completed a BSc in Conservation Ecology at the University of Stellenbosch. Upon graduation I returned to Namibia and began working for IRDNC (Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation) – a Namibia-based NGO which provides technical support to communities within the government’s community-based natural resource management framework. Work here inspired me to do my Masters and to use some of what I had learnt in writing up my dissertation. I enrolled for an MPhil in Environment, Society and Sustainability at the University of Cape Town in 2012 and after completing a year of coursework I began my dissertation. My research explored the social impacts of commercialising a traditionally used plant product on an indigenous group of people, known as the Himba. The plant product used as a case study is the resin from Commiphora wildii, valued for its scent and used in the commercial manufacturing of perfumes. Himba people use the resin of C. wildii as a perfume in a daily beauty ritual and place great cultural value on the plant. My research investigated the extent and the process of commercialisation; and analysed the impacts on harvesters in terms of changes in culture, economic issues, as well as social benefits and challenges.