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Data from: Ethnobotany of stinging nettle (Urtica simensis Hochst. ex. A. Rich.) in the Oromia region of central and southeastern highlands of Ethiopia


Shonte, Tigist Tadesse; Woldetsadik, Kebede (2022), Data from: Ethnobotany of stinging nettle (Urtica simensis Hochst. ex. A. Rich.) in the Oromia region of central and southeastern highlands of Ethiopia, Dryad, Dataset,


The data was generated to document ethnobotanical uses of U. simensis and the associated traditional knowledge of the indigenous people and to identify the factors limiting harvesting and utilization of stinging nettle in North Shewa (R4), Bale and Arsi zones of the Oromia region, central and southeastern highlands of Ethiopia. Thirteen districts were purposively selected from the three zones and a total of 130 respondents were sampled, with consideration of gender, age, occupation, and wealth status. Data were collected using semistructured interviews, tour-guided field observations, and focus group discussions.


Descriptions of the study area and sampling method

The Oromia region with 353,690 square kilometers of land area (32% of the country), represents the largest regional State of the 11 regions found in Ethiopia. Administratively, the Oromia region is divided into 17 zones, 245 Weredas, and 36 town administrations with 6500 kebele subdivisions. This study was conducted in North Shewa (R4), Bale, and Arsi zones of the Oromia region, central and southeastern highlands of Ethiopia (Figure 1). North Shewa (R4) zone is located at 9°75’ to 11°92’N and 41°84’ to 44°93’E with altitude ranging from 1551-3010 m.a.s.l in the central part of Ethiopia. Arsi zone is located between 7°72’ to 10°32’N and 42°62’ to 46°28’E with altitude ranging 2000 to 3207 m.a.s.l in the southeastern part of Ethiopia. Bale zone located is between 5°56’ to 9°68’ N and 42°89’ to 48°51’E with altitude ranging from 2,492 to 3207 m.a.s.l in the southeastern part of Ethiopia.

A reconnaissance survey was conducted in April 2019 to produce a specific description of the study sites and gain an overview of the availability, distribution, and consumption practice of stinging nettle. In the study, six districts from the North Shewa (R4) zone (Wara Jarso, Degem, Gerar Jarso, Debre libanos, Yaya Gulele, and Jida), four districts from the Arsi zone (Tiyo, Sire, Degeluna Tijo, and Inkolo Wabe districts) and three districts from Bale zone (Dinsho, Sinana, and Goba districts were selected considering the long history use and availability of stinging nettle.

After selecting the study sites, a discussion was made with the respective responsible government officials of the districts administrators and agricultural development agents. The discussion was conducted after a clear explanation of the objectives, planned activities, and duration of the research. Kebeles (villages) were then selected that met the selection criteria. Tour-guided field observation was made jointly with agricultural development agents to select Kebeles and to check the availability of stinging nettle plants within the study area. The information generated through this activity supported purposively selecting five households and two sample Kebeles from the respective districts of each zones. Formal letters were written to selected rural kebeles by the responsible district offices. It was essential to maintain contact with the indigenous people while studies were conducted.

Respondents were stratified by age, gender, wealth status, and occupation of the households. The household wealth index is constructed based on “the number and kinds of consumer goods they own, ranging from a television to a bicycle or car, in addition to housing characteristics such as a source of drinking water, toilet facilities, and flooring materials”. Accordingly, each participating household was scored for wealth status as either low income or middle income to high income. The 104 general informants were identified by taking three household informant from each stratified randomly identified household and one key informant from each kebele were purposively selected making a total of 130 informants. Thus, out of the 130 informants, 104 (4 informants × 2 Kebeles × 13 districts) were general informants selected randomly by a lottery method from the stratified households to give equal chances. The other 26 informants (from 13 districts × 2 Kebeles × 1 key informant) were key informants selected purposively based on the recommendations from local authorities, confirmed to be knowledgeable about stinging nettle, and volunteered to participate in the study. This procedure satisfied local customs and official ethical guidelines on carrying out the study on traditional knowledge and uses of stinging nettle (U. simensis) in the central and southeastern highlands of Ethiopia. Government bodies and indigenous community members have fully consented and facilitated the work.

Data collection

The ethnobotanical data on traditional knowledge and uses of stinging nettle were collected using a semi-structured interview, tour-guided field observation, and focus group discussions. The semi-structured interviews comprised of a checklist of open-ended questions were prepared in English and translated to the local languages Amharic and Afaan Oromo by a proficient local translator. Each interviewee was asked the same questions independently without contacts or sharing information with the other informants or with the target population. 

Tour-guided field observation with the agricultural development agents (Figure 3) and a total of 26 focus group discussions (FGDs), one from each kebeles, were conducted for crosschecking and triangulating the ethnobotanical data collected through the semi-structured interviews. Accordingly, the FGDs were undertaken in groups of four to five key informants, farmers, Kebele administrator, and agricultural development agents, mediated by the researcher in each of the selected Kebeles.