The Medicinal Plants Association protects and cultivates endemic species of medicinal plants in the St. Catherine Reserve in Sinai and aims to create livelihood alternatives for the area’s economically marginalized Bedouin population. The reserve contains several unique and endangered medicinal plant species which have been threatened by overharvesting, collection for use as fuel, and overgrazing. The association promotes home gardens, provides alternative energy solutions, gives hands-on training on sustainable harvesting techniques, and creates market supply chains for locally produced medicinal herbs, handicrafts and honey.
In addition to creating six medicinal plant restoration sites around the reserve, the association has raised local awareness of the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem health for local wellbeing. Alterative livelihood programs focus on Bedouin women. The association has created farms for the cultivation of medicinal plants and supports female farmers through the process of planting through to the marketing of products. Revenues from association activities have been invested in a rotating fund which allows the community to access small loans.