Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 10.COM 10.c.1

The Committee,

  1. Recalling Chapter V of the Convention and Chapter I of the Operational Directives,
  2. Having examined document ITH/15/10.COM 10.c as well as the international assistance request 01060,
  3. Takes note that Malawi has requested International Assistance for Safeguarding of Nkhonde, Tumbuka and Chewa proverbs and folktales:

The proverbs and folktales of the Nkhonde, Tumbuka and Chewa people of Karonga, Rumphi and Lilongwe Districts embody the knowledge, wisdom and culture in Malawi and function as vehicles for their cultural values. However, transmission of this heritage is gradually weakening. Few members of these communities now transmit proverbs and folktales to their children and transcriptions of this oral heritage are practically non-existent. The objective of the project is to document these proverbs and folktales and in the process contribute to the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in Malawi. The project will train six researchers from the Oral Traditions Association of Malawi (OTAMA). The trained researchers will work with and train six young field assistants from the three communities to identify and interview informants, aiming to collect five proverbs and five folktales from each. The researchers will also record the proverbs and folktales on video. They will then transcribe, analyse and translate the material to produce books dedicated to proverbs, folktales and terminologies.

  1. Further takes note that this assistance concerns the support for a project carried out at national level aimed at the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in accordance with article 20 of the Convention, and that it takes the form of the granting of donation in line with article 21 (g) of the Convention;
  2. Also takes note that Malawi requested an allocation of US$90,533 from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the implementation of the project;
  3. Decides that, from the information provided in file 01060, the request responds as follows to the criteria for granting International Assistance in paragraphs 10 and 12 of the Operational Directives:

Criterion A.1: The request demonstrates an active participation of Nkhonde, Tumbuka and Chewa communities in the proposed project, starting from the initiative of traditional leaders to focus the safeguarding on proverbs and folktales, consultations between experts, traditional authorities, local governments and community heritage organizations during the preparation of the project, to the involvement of selected community members as research assistants in its implementation; two coordinators and six researchers from outside of the community are in charge of key activities relating to research, documentation and the resulting publication of nine books;

Criterion A.2: The budget is clear, detailed and structured in accordance with planned activities and expected results; nevertheless there are some discrepancies or vagueness between the budget breakdown and the proposed activities, in particular regarding the number of persons involved and the duration of certain activities; certain costs seem to be unduly high, while others indicate imbalance between various participants in the project;

Criterion A.3: A systematic implementation strategy and established system of monitoring and evaluation promote the feasibility of the project; however, top-down structuring is apparent, unjustified absence of oral transmission such as storytelling as a means of revitalization and lack of information on literacy levels to ascertain appropriateness of the chosen strategy and priori decision on number of proverbs and folktales for collection; few informants and fieldwork days represent additional weaknesses of the project;

Criterion A.4: Besides availability of publications on Nkhonde, Tumbuka and Chewa proverbs and folktales, six researchers at a national level and six youth field assistants on a community level will be trained through this project in community-based inventorying and participatory methodologies; these outcomes, accompanied by a coordination established between national public institutions, traditional authorities and community-based heritage organizations, carry forward a realistic sustainability potential; no evidence is provided, however, on whether and how the project might strengthen sources of creative traditional knowledge, community learning spaces or oratory skills;

Criterion A.5: The State Party is committed to provide 7% of the total project budget, intended primarily for a part of the publishing costs; given the partners involved, it may be useful to identify in-kind or other contributions, if any;

Criterion A.6: Besides general awareness-raising on the importance of intangible cultural heritage and its safeguarding, the safeguarding capacities of the communities concerned will be strengthened primarily thanks to an active involvement in the project of six members who serve as research assistants, as well as members involved in the project management team; although the project envisages capacity-building for community members in general, including their participation in monitoring and evaluation of the project, no concrete activities are delineated to this end;

Criterion A.7: Malawi was one of the beneficiaries of three UNESCO-Flanders Funds-in-Trust projects in Southern Africa, namely ‘Strengthening sub-regional cooperation and national capacities in seven Southern African countries for implementing the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage’ (2013-2015); ‘Strengthening national capacities for effective safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe’ (2011-2013); and ‘A series of pilot projects in community-based intangible heritage inventorying on a grassroots-level in six selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa’ (2009-2011); the country also received an International Assistance of US$24,947 from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the project ‘Development of an inventory of intangible cultural heritage of Malawi’ (2012-2013); Malawi previously implemented two UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust projects, ‘Safeguarding of the Gulu Wamkulu, the Great Dance of the Chewa People’ (2006-2009) and ‘Action plan for the safeguarding of the Vimbuza Healing Dance’ (2006-2009); the work stipulated by the contracts related to these projects was carried out in compliance with UNESCO’s regulations and all projects have been completed;

Consideration 10(a): The project is local in scope and involves national implementing partners;

Consideration 10(b): The request envisages that the project may stimulate universities, television and radio stations, telecommunication companies and the Ministry of Education to use and further develop its results, for instance by devising programmes on storytelling for children; the strengthening of individual and institutional capacities and the cooperation established between several national institutions carry potential to stimulate future safeguarding efforts and financial contributions.

  1. Decides to approve the international assistance request from Malawi for Safeguarding of Nkhonde, Tumbuka and Chewa proverbs and folktales and to grant an amount of US$90,533 to the State Party to this end;
  2. Requests the State Party to work with the Secretariat at the earliest possible opportunity in order to clarify the budget breakdown and make sure that it corresponds exactly and is appropriate to the planned activities;
  3. Invites the State Party, while revising the budget, to include an additional activity, while staying within the same overall budget, pertaining to oral transmission as a means of revitalization, for instance in the form of storytelling sessions;
  4. Further invites the State Party to use the ICH-04-Report Form to report on the use of assistance granted.