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PhD defense: Desert related traditional knowledge, policies and management in Wadi Allaqi, South Eastern Desert, Egypt | H.A. (Hanaa) Hassan Abdou

When:Mo 21-12-2020 at 09:00
Where:Academy building and live stream


PhD ceremony:
Ms H.A. (Hanaa) Hassan Abdou
December 21, 2020
dr. J.A.A. (Sjaak) Swart
Science and Engineering
Research Institute:
Research Group:

Traditional knowledge in the desert. By Hanaa Ali HassaanHow do Bedouins survive, living in the dry desert? Part of the secret can be found in their Traditional Knowledge (TK), about plants, rangeland, pastoralism and settlement related issues. Such TK, that supports social resilience to endure harsh conditions, is vanishing because of political and socio-economic conditions. Also globally, traditional knowledge is at stake, notwithstanding intentions laid down in international policy conventions. This thesis describes the TK that has played a role in the subsistence of Bedouins living in the extreme conditions of Wadi Allaqi Biosphere Reserve, Southeastern Desert of Egypt.

In this study, we investigated the impact of the formation of Lake Nasser in the mid-1960s and the establishment of a new village in the vicinity of the lake in the early 2000s on TK of a Bedouin community. First, we studied whether Bedouin knowledge of plant species has changed in the context of socio-economic changes during the last 50 years. Then, we focused on items relating to rangelands and settlements. Next, we analyzed whether TK plays a role in Egyptian policy, as reflected in policy documents and in interviews with regional stakeholders. Finally, we explored a possible role of citizen science approaches in the conservation and application of TK in Southern Egypt. Based on interviews with and observations of Bedouin people we demonstrated that indigenous, botanical knowledge gets lost, and that several cultural aspects of Bedouin culture are vanishing. At the other hand new agricultural knowledge has been developed with regard to the use of aquatic species, especially as a source of fodder for their herds of goats. Notwithstanding international conventions on traditional knowledge, practical interest is very limited within regional Egyptian policy, research and education. Derived recommendations imply that a stronger position of TK in regulation and law should be supplemented by social measures and actions, taking into account the perspective of the Bedouin community, in a citizen science approach of public participation. This research, supported by Nuffic, has been carried out under the supervision of Dr. Sjaak Swart and Prof. Dr. Menno Gerkema at the Energy and Sustainability Research Institute of the University of Groningen.