German-African research collaboration

12.12.2018 - Article

Many institutions collaborate to identify effective medicinal plants against HIV, worms and tuberculosis and to recommend their cultivation.

Participants at work in Mmankgodi, Botswana
Participants at work in Mmankgodi, Botswana© MLU

In particular, the project “Tri-Sustain” deals with medicinal plants that are threatened with extinction. To identify effective medicinal plants against HIV, worms and tuberculosis and to recommend their cultivation, German and African institutions work together: The Martin-Luther-University Halle Wittenberg (MLU), the Department of Biology of the University of Botswana (UB), the Addis Ababa University and the Muhimbili University of Health & Allied Sciences in Dar-es-Salaam.

The research project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is dedicated to the sustainable use of resources in Africa.

The focus of the project´s activities are the slogans “North/South and South/South Cooperation” and “Sustainability” - in the use of traditional African medicinal plants and pharmaceutical excipients and sustainability in the education of young scientists of African origin. The project that is led by Prof. Dr. Peter Imming (Institut of Pharmacy of the MLU) opens cooperation of African partners among themselves and with science institutions in Halle.

From November 11 to 16, 2018, the eight doctoral students involved in the project met with their supervisors for the third graduate school in the heart of Africa. The topic of the graduate school was “Participatory research tools and culturally sensitive documentation methods to identify bioactive medicinal plants - Strategies for Innovation and Entrepreneurship”. The participants were introduced to the most important methods in dealing with traditional knowledge and ethnobotanical tasks. The legal framework for the use of traditional knowledge was discussed.

The workshop was supplemented by lectures by E. Smykalla (International Office of the MLU) and D. Worch (Univations Institute for Knowledge and Technology Transfer at the MLU), which gave insights into the doctoral opportunities at the University of Halle and the promotion of innovation and start-up sustainable entrepreneurship.

Trisustain Grad School in Mmankgodi, Botswana
Trisustain Grad School in Mmankgodi, Botswana© MLU

The doctoral students themselves presented the progress of their own work and used the opportunity to exchange and network with experts from numerous scientific fields. A central point of the workshop was the visit to the village of Mmankgodi. Thanks to the participation of the Bahurutshe Women's Cooperative and a traditional healer the PhD students were able to practically practice participatory techniques for obtaining and preserving traditionally transmitted knowledge.

Bilateral meetings of the Deans of the participating faculties of the MLU (Prof. Dr. Dietrich Nies) and UB (Prof. Dr. Julius Atlhopeng), the peers of the International Offices and the Technology Transfer Units rounded off the workshop and contributed to the strengthening of institutional relations. The cooperation possibilities of the MLU with African countries were further discussed during a reception at the invitation of the German Ambassador in Botswana, Dr. Ralf Breth. The next workshop is scheduled for 2019 in Halle.

© German Embassy Gaborone

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