Medicinal Plants of Yalo, a Woreda in Ethiopia’s Afar Regional State


An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal and edible plants of Yalo Woreda in Afar regional state, Ethiopia

Teklehaymanot T
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2017 Jul 5;13(1):40
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5499056

Afar Regional State, Ethiopia
Afar Regional State, Ethiopia [Source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons]
Tilahun Teklehaymanot of the Aklilu Lemma Institute of Pathobiology, Addis Ababa University, conducted an ethnobotanical survey to document medicinal and edible plants used in Yalo, a woreda in Ethiopia’s Afar Regional State.

Writing in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, Professor Teklehaymanot describes the vulnerability of traditional knowledge in Afar:

“The people in the Afar region have the lowest health and education coverage in the country with the highest food insecurity. They are a traditional society that has native and unique information exchange system by word of mouth called ‘Dagu,’ which their livelihood is very much dependent on the information transferred through Dagu system. The information ranges from weather to availability of grazing lands for their animals, and peace and security of the region. Nevertheless, the cultural transformation, expansion of modern education and development in the area could detach the younger generation from such cultural values and pastoral systems that lead to loss of traditional knowledge in general, and knowledge of medicinal and edible plants in particular.”

Acalypha fruticosa
Acalypha fruticosa [Photo: J.M.Garg, Wikimedia Commons]
Working with 160 informants selected with the assistance of elders, the author documented 102 medicinal plant species used to treat human as well as livestock diseases. Particularly important plants (species reported by 15 and more informants and used as a remedy for multiple diseases) included Acacia mellifera, Acacia oerfota, Acalypha fruticosa, Acalypha indica, Balanites aegyptiaca, Balanites rotundifolia, Cadaba farinosa, Cadaba glandulosa, Cadaba rotundifolia, Celosia polystachia, and Indigofera oblongifolia.

The plants were used as remedies for a variety of conditions such as breast cancer, dyspepsia, epilepsy, herpes zoster, jaundice, lung infection, malaria, stomachache, bloody dysentery, and fever.

In his conclusion, the author recommends conservation to ensure sustainable use of the plants and protect the associated traditional knowledge.

“The edible plants are used as food security and generate the pastoralist economic. All the plants with medicinal and economic importance are collected from the wide and conservation is not practiced in the area. Hence, conservation of the plants in the home garden and in the natural vegetation is a necessity against the recurrent drought and climatic changes that negatively affect the vegetation of the area, to protect the associated traditional knowledge from fast disappearing and ensure sustainable use of the plants in the traditional healthcare system. The integration of edible plants in the food sufficiency strategies in the area has to be considered since animal productivity is severely affected by encroaching invasive plants and recurrent drought. The holistic soil and water conservation policy that is being implemented in other parts of the country has to be employed in the region to save the natural vegetation that is also the repository for the medicinal and edible plants for future pharmacological and nutritional studies.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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