Current Placement Spotlight: Bushra Zaheer in Cape Town, South Africa

Bushra Zaheer in Cape Town

Since September 2018, Bushra Zaheer has been involved in a wide range of activities during her placement with Natural Justice in Cape Town, South Africa. She primarily performs a logistical role in planning meetings with member councils to the Rooibos Bio-Cultural Community Protocol (BCP). She also participates in other community scoping missions, like consultation with San activists from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) in Botswana. The purpose of the organization's visits includes, for instance in the case of Botswana they sought to better understand issues the San are facing in terms of limited customary usage of the land and natural resources within the CKGR. Furthermore, Bushra is also working on substantive work such as heading an Indigenous Land Right Report outlining the stories of four communities indigenous to South Africa who are fighting for land tenure and resource securitization. Currently, Bushra is working on the finalization of the Rooibos BCP text as well as the next steps of implementation, including creating step-by-step procedural outline of the application of Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC) by external actors wishing to access indigenous communities’ traditional knowledge pertaining to Rooibos. Overall, Bushra has had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects around the governance of land and resources in the context of indigenous and traditional communities.

Outside of work, Bushra enjoys hiking mountains, exploring markets around the urban center and attending local music festivals. For her thesis, she is exploring the impacts of Bio-Cultural Community Protocols (BCPs) on preserving communities’ traditional and customary knowledge and how in effect, this preservation aids the community in preserving their ways of adapting and dealing with the varying effects of climate change impacting their ways of life. Seeing that traditional knowledge and climate change are intimately linked, she aims to assess how BCPs may offer something new to the climate arena in the sense of encouraging further inclusion of indigenous and traditional communities.