Canadian Field Studies in Africa 2010

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Canadian Field Studies in Africa 2010

Canadian Field Studies in Africa 2010

    (NUTR 403 Nutrition in Society)



Professor Timothy Johns

    McGill University

The nature and ecological significance of food and medicinal plant biodiversity in traditional

    subsistence systems; scientific, institutional and ethical issues in ethnobotany; evaluation,

    application and management of plants and Indigenous Knowledge of plants to address

    contemporary health and nutrition problems.

    Textbooks: Course Pack and articles as pdf files.

Evaluation and Grading: Written assignments based on an application of concepts and

    information presented in class and readings to field activities and experiences:

    Short reports (3) related to field exercises to be handed in the next day 3 X 10 30 points In class presentation of one course reading 10 points Take home exams (2) in form of short essays (based on lectures and readings)2 x 25 50 points Participation 10 points



Introduction - Ethnobotany at the Interface of Human and Ecosystem Health

     Impact of Change on Traditional Subsistence Patterns

     Environmental change

     Loss of biodiversity

     Population pressure and urbanization

     Chemical contamination of traditional subsistence systems

     Socio-economic change

     Cultural erosion

     Development trends

     Commercial agriculture and Globalization of trade Ethnobotany Research in Kenya

    Introduction to Kenya flora

    Sample collection and preservation

    Survey and data gathering

    Ethnobotany and biodiversity conservation

    Conservation and resource management

    Dietary Diversity and the East African Food System

     Traditional foods of Kenya

     Rural-urban linkages and the commercialization of traditional agrobiodiversity

    Plant Resources in Traditional Subsistence Ethnobotany of the Maasai and Luo


     Crop and wild food plants

     Herbal medicine

     Plants in material culture

    International Nutrition and Health

     Nutritional deficiencies / Malnutrition

     Epidemiology of infectious disease in Kenya and other tropical countries

    Nutrition transition and epidemiology of non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular

    disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.)

    Nutritional Status Assessment


     Assessment methods for nutritional deficiencies Ethnobotany as a Scientific Discipline


     History of the field

     Current Issues and Trends

     Forming and testing ethnobotancial hypotheses Subsistence Systems

     General characteristics of traditional systems

     Hunter-gatherers, Pastoralism, Agriculture Human Ecology

     Human nutritional needs

     Human biological adaptations

     Human biological diversity

     Cultural adaptations

     Adaptations to specific environments

     Evolutionary origins of human diet and medicine Indigenous Knowledge Systems

     Traditional Science

     Folk classification

     Traditional forms of healing

     Gender differentiation of traditional knowledge Biological Conservation and Ethnobotany

     Non-timber forest products

     Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)

     Indigenous Conservation Practices

     Sacred groves and forest reserves on the Kenyan Coast

    Ecological assessment and monitoring Methodological Issues in Ethnobotany

    Participatory Ethnobotany

     Participatory methodology

     Case studies

    Ethnobotanical Methods

     Survey and data gathering

     Quantitative ethnobotany

     Sample collection and preservation

    Ethical Issues


     Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and Traditional Resource Rights (TRR)

    Training, Development and Research Priorities

     Local and international organizations in conservation and health

     Intervention programs

    Biocultural Diversity and the Sustainability of Developing Country Food Systems

REQUIRED READINGS (in process of revision)


    Johns, T. 1994. Ethnobotany at the interface between human subsistence and the environment in

    Africa. In R. Vernooy and K.M. Kealey (Eds.). Food Systems Under Stress in Africa.

    IDRC, Ottawa.

    International Nutrition and Health

    FAO. 1997. Foods nutrition and diet pp. 229-280. In Agriculture, Food and Nutrition for Africa.

    FAO, Rome.

    FAO. 1997. Malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. pp. 281-329. In Agriculture, Food and

    Nutrition for Africa. FAO, Rome.

    WHO. 2003. Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases. WHO Technical Report

    Series 916, Geneva. Pp. 4-29

    Plant Resources in Traditional Subsistence

    Fleuret, A. 1987. Dietary and therapeutic uses of fruit in three Taita communities. Pp. 151-170.

    In N.L. Etkin. Plants In Indigenous Medicine and Diet: Biobehavioral Approaches.

    Redgrave Publishing Company, Bedford Hills.

    Hladik, A., E.G. Leigh and F. Bourliere. 1993. Food production and nutritional value of wild and

    semi-domesticated species - background. pp. 127-138. In C.M. Hladik et al (eds). Tropical

    Forests, People and Food: Biocultural Interactions and Applications to Development.

    UNESCO, Paris.

    Maundu, P.M., et al. 1999. Kenya. Pp. 51-79. In J.A. Chweya & P.B. Eyzaguirre (eds.) The

    biodiversity of traditional leafy vegetables. IPGRI, Rome.

    Nestel, P.S. 1989. Food intake and growth in the Maasai. Ecology of Food and Nutrition. 23:17-


    Maundu, P. et al. 2001. Ethnobotany of the Loita Maasai: Towards Community Management of

    the Forest of the Lost Child - Experiences from the Loita Ethnobotany Project. People and

    Plants Working Paper 8, UNESCO, Paris. Pp. 1-24.

    Johns, T. and J.O. Kokwaro. 1991. Food plants of the Luo of Siaya District, Kenya. Economic

    Botany, 45:103-113.

    Subsistence Systems and Human Ecology

    Altieri, M.A. 1995. Traditional agriculture. Chapter 6 In Agroecology: The Science of

    Sustainable Agriculture. Intermediate Technology Publications, London. Okigbo, B.N. 1990. Home gardens in Tropical Africa. In Tropical Home Gardens. United

    Nations University Press, Tokyo.Pp. of ref.

    Were, G.S. and C.L. Wanjala. eds. 1986. Food and drink. Kajiado District: Socio-cultural Profile.

    Government of Kenya, Nairobi. Pp. 84-88.

    Were, G.S. and J. Olenja. eds. 1986. Hunting and gagthering; Food and drink; Medicine and

    health. Narok District; Socio-cultural profile. Government of Kenya, Nairobi. Pp. 88-123.


    Were, G.S., B.E. Kipkorir and E.O. Ayiemba. eds.1986. Agriculture, husbandry and property;

    Food and drink, South Nyanza District Socio-Cultural Profile. Government of Kenya,

    Nairobi Pp. 51-78.

    Johns. T., M. Nadarajan, M.L. Parkipuny and P.J.H. Jones. 2000. Maasai Gummivory:

    Implications for Paleolithic Diets and Contemporary Health. Current Anthropology.


    Linking Biological Diversity, Dietary Diversity and Nutrition

    Johns, T. and B.R. Sthapit. 2004. Biocultural diversity in the sustainability of developing country

    food systems. Food and Nutrition Bulletin. 25:143-155.

    Johns, T and P. Maundu. 2006. Forest biodiversity, nutrition and population health in market-

    oriented food systems. UNASYLVA. 224. 57/2:34-40

    Johns, T., I.F. Smith and P.B. Eyzaguirre. 2006. Agrobiodiversity, Nutrition and Health. Brief 12.

    Hawkes, C and M.T. Ruel. (eds.) Understanding the Links Between Agriculture and Health.

    2020 Focus 13. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington. Indigenous Knowledge Systems

    Cotton, C.M. 1996. Traditional botanical knowledge. Pp. 59-89.In Ethnobotany: Principles and

    Applications, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester

    Traditional Medicine and Ethnopharmacology

    Sindiga, I. 1995. Maasai traditional medicine. Chapter 8 In I. Sindiga, C. Nyaigotti-Chacha and

    M.P. Kanunah (eds). Traditional Medicine in Africa, East African Educational Publishers,


    Geissler, P.W., et al. 2002. Medicinal plants used by Luo mothers and children in Bondo dstrict,

    Kenya. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 83:39-54.

    Sindiga, I. 1995. Managing illness among the Luo. Chapter 6 In I. Sindiga, C. Nyaigotti-Chacha

    and M.P. Kanunah (eds). Traditional Medicine in Africa, East African Educational

    Publishers, Nairobi.

    Moss, W. et al. 1999. Foundations for effective strategies to control sexually transmitted

    infections: voices from rural Kenya. Aids Care 11:95-113.

    Kawango, E.A. 1995. Ethnomedicinal remedies and therapies in maternal and child health

    among the rural Luo. Chapter 7 In I. Sindiga, C. Nyaigotti-Chacha and M.P. Kanunah

    (eds). Traditional Medicine in Africa, East African Educational Publishers, Nairobi. Johns, T., G.M. Faubert, J.O. Kokwaro, R.L.A. Mahunnah and E.K. Kimanani. 1995. Anti-

    giardial activity of gastrointestinal remedies of the Luo of East Africa. Journal of

    Ethnopharmacology. 46:17-23.

    Hussein, G. et al 1999. Inhibitory effects of Sudanese plant extracts on HIV-1 replication and

    HIV-1 protease. Phytotherapy Research 13:31-36.

    Biological Conservation and Ethnobotany

    Martin, G.J. 1995. Ethnobotany, conservation and community development. Pp. 223-251.

    Ethnobotany: A Methods Manual. Chapman & Hall, London

    Smith, W., T.C. Meredith and T. Johns. 1996. Use and conservation of woody vegetation by the

    Batemi of Ngorongoro District, Tanzania. Economic Botany 50:290-299.

    Participatory Ethnobotany

    Godbole, A. 2000. Participatory ethnobotanical research for biodiversity conservation:

    experiences from Northern Nagaland, India. Pp. 173-180 in Friis-Hansen, E. and B. Sthapit.

    (Eds.). Participatory approaches to the conservation and use of plant genetic resources.

    IPGRI, Rome.


    Barrow, E.G.C. 1991. Evaluating the effectiveness of participatory agroforestry extension

    programmes in a pastoral system, based on existing traditional values. A case study of the

    Turkana in Kenya. Agroforestry Systems 14:1-21.


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