Dissertations >> Sai Sam Hkam - Way of The Elders

Sai Sam Hkam - Way of The Elders


Myanmar is a country rich in biodiversity and culture. From the snow-capped mountains of the north to the tropical coral islands of the Andaman sea to the South, it harbours diverse ecoregions, flora and fauna. Culturally, Myanmar’s 138 different ethnic groups possess colourful cultures and languages. Strategically bridged between politically and culturally powerful nations – China and India, Myanmar is enriched by these two civilisations while maintaining its own unique identity. At present, Myanmar is in the process of political transition. Myanmar is not an exception to the manipulative forces of economic globalisation, as manifested by the demand for natural resources from China and other neighbouring countries and the construction of massive hydropower and natural gas pipeline projects.

This study looks at the conservation situation of the healing knowledge of the people of Bang Shau Village, in the Northern Shan State of Myanmar, taking into account transfer of this knowledge between generations and the medicinal plants themselves. Following the tradition of action research, this study questions the power dynamics and tries to find ways to empower collective community action.

This study outlines;

1. the situation of knowledge transfer from the older to the younger generation,
2. the situation of medicinal plants – collected both for export to China and for domestic use,
3. the participatory community action plan to ensure the survival and sustainability of medicinal plants and the healing wisdom.
4. a summary of the widely used medicinal plants for common diseases

This study highlights the need to analyse how the discourse of conservation is constructed, not simply to focus on what activities we are going to do for conservation or copy the policy and actions of advanced countries. This study encourages policy and decision-makers to seriously consider inclusion processes in policy making and implementation, and to look at the relations and linkages between health, education and social issues such as poverty and its alleviation.