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Association of Zimbabwean
saditional Environmental Conservationists
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, the Association of Zimbabwe Traditional Environmental Conservationists is an indigenous NGO based in Masvingo Province. Chiefs, spirit mediums and practitioners founded the organization in 1985 to revive, restore and uphold indigenous cultures on food and livelihood security, health delivery systems, natural resources conservation and locally affordable technology development. Chiefs are the administrators of flora and fauna, spirit mediums are the custodians of African spiritual guidance whilst practitioners are natural experts on specific expertise within African knowledge systems. AZTREC implements its programme in rural and resettled communities (wards 22, 31 and 32 in GutuhDistrict, wards 1, 2 and 6 Masvingo District and wards 1 and 9 Chirumanzu District) promoting the propagation and storage of open pollinated seed varieties of small grains, facilitating the establishment of community managed tree seedling nurseries, facilitating the validation of local technologies and marketing of community products. Small grains and other indigenous foods are vital to nutrition in terms of providing essential macronutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and fats for immune boosting. In traditional health systems the small grains are used in recipes for administering natural herbs and medicines. The tree seedling nurseries provide seedlings for fruit trees, woodlots for timber and wood for the communities.

medicines and herbs have been used by a lot of people the world over, however, very little attention has been given in terms of trying to understand the medicinal values, the spiritual and cultural values attached to them. Traditional health delivery system is one of AZTRECfs programme thematic areas and over the years the organization has undertaken research and validation of natural herbs and medicines. The issue of HIV/AIDS within AZTREC target communities has further necessitated the need to bring about a homegrown solution that is socially, culturally and spiritually rooted in our African knowledge systems.

is focusing on working with spirit mediums who provide spiritual counseling to the infected and affected individuals and families. Traditional medical practitioners are involved in the collection, processing, packaging and administration of natural herbs and medicines. The rising costs of modern medicines have forced at least 50% of the infected individuals on home-based care within AZTREC target communities to depend on natural herbs and medicines. It has been a proven fact that natural herbs and medicines can cure some of the symptoms of HIV/AIDS. Also on an important note, spirit mediums, during ceremonies and ritual have to some extent guided herbalists to collect and process natural herbs and medicines, which have proved effective to the infected. In our African tradition we realized that spirit mediums give guidance to people on pandemics, droughts and any other disasters that could affect indigenous people. Their spiritual guidance has remained an issue, which is yet to be strongly considered and integrated into the mainstream development arena of Zimbabwe.
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