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An ethical exploration of the effects of the increased commercialization of ethnomedicine products on the environment: the case of the city province of Kinshasa Democratic Republic of Congo.

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This study presents an in-depth investigation into the way the population of the City Province of Kinshasa (the Kinois people) have become involved in the new phenomenon of the commercialization of ethnomedicine products and its long-term effects on the environment. This topic has received little research attention, particularly in the area under focus. The research is motivated by the fact that the Kinois people are facing a significant challenge in terms of the extinction of their forests, shrubs and animal species. This has created environmental pollution with direct consequences such as climate change, flooding and high temperatures. This research ethically interrogates the effects of the commercialization of ethnomedicine products and its contribution to the environmental crisis in the area under focus. A review of the literature and environmental stewardship and consequentialism theories were used as lenses to analyse the data collected. This study made use of the qualitative method. The research design comprised an exploratory case study of sellers of ethnomedicine products. Purposive sampling was used to select 12 experienced sellers and data were generated through one-on-one interviews with each of the participants. The findings show that the Kinois people acknowledge that they have been contributing to environmental issues through the cutting of plants, tree barks and animal bones. Although government regulations have been put in place to control these practices, the problem persists due to the Provincial Government’s inability to enforce the regulations. This requires the population to be conscious of the need to work and care for the environment. It was also found that the socio-economic conditions of the country, including unemployment and poverty, have forced the Kinois people to commercialize ethnomedicine products to ensure their survival. Various recommendations are given including the need to prioritize environmental education. The study ends with some suggestions for further research.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.