Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 7.COM 10.5

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Malawi has requested International Assistance in the amount of US$225,650 for Inventory of Malawi’s indigenous knowledge related to climate change adaptation strategies:

Rural communities in Malawi have devised ingenious ways to cope with and adapt to the adverse impacts of extreme weather events resulting from the effects of climate change and, in particular, the erratic distribution and intensity of rainfall. Little of this indigenous knowledge has been documented to date, however. This project proposes to make a systematic and comprehensive national inventory of indigenous adaptation and mitigation practices in Malawi’s most vulnerable communities, so as to provide information that will help formulate evidence-based and culturally appropriate climate change policies. The principal objectives are to identify and document indigenous adaptation to climate change and mitigation strategies; to record and preserve indigenous knowledge pertaining to weather forecasts and interpretation of weather systems, which could then be used to reinforce the current erratic weather forecast system; and to document and safeguard the harnessing of indigenous technologies for ensuring food security. Chiefs and local communities would be fully involved throughout the project through public meetings. In order to generate a comprehensive inventory the project would be extended to other districts throughout the country. All best practices would be promoted and propagated countrywide, and the results published with the intention of stimulating similar work in other countries and future cooperation with Malawian researchers.

  1. Decides that, from the information provided in file 00680, the request responds as follows to the criteria for granting International Assistance given in Paragraphs 10 and 12 of the Operational Directives:

A.1:   The active participation of communities in the preparation of the request and their involvement in implementing the proposed activities have not been sufficiently elaborated; identification of the communities and justification for their inclusion in the project are lacking;

A.2:   Although the budget is clearly presented, certain costs appear to be overestimated while some major project components were not budgeted with adequate detail or consistency; remuneration is anticipated for all participants except community members, who should instead be at the core of the project;

A.3:   Despite the important topic and laudable objectives, the request is not clearly framed in terms of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and is presented as essentially a research programme; the active involvement of the community in identifying and sharing its indigenous knowledge is minimal; the implementation strategy, including the specific responsibilities of each partner, needs to be described in greater detail;

A.4:   Beyond the data collection exercise, the requesting State has not sufficiently explained how the proposed documentation and awareness-raising activities could contribute to the safeguarding of the indigenous knowledge concerned; it is also not clearly indicated how the results of the study itself will feed back into the policy process;

A.5:   The State Party does not share the costs of the activities for which international assistance is requested, nor does the request identify any particular circumstances that might justify such a limited participation;

A.6:   The assistance aims to reinforce the capacities of the implementing organization and its partners to develop similar projects at a larger scale; however, the State Party has not explained how it would strengthen the capacities of the communities to safeguard the knowledge that they hold;

A.7:   In July 2012, the Bureau of the Committee granted financial assistance to Malawi in the amount of US$24,947 to carry out a project that is now getting underway entitled ‘Development of an inventory of intangible heritage of Malawi’;

10(a):    The project is national in scope and would involve national implementing partners;

10(b):    The project’s potential to stimulate similar initiatives or additional support from other sources is weakened by the absence of integration of the implementing organization in the national and international institutional network; the project does not foresee a strategy for incorporating the research findings into safeguarding activities or into the policy process;

  1. Decides not to approve the request, and invites the State Party to submit a revised request responding more fully to the criteria for selection and to the considerations noted in the present decision;
  2. Commends the State Party’s willingness to develop a project addressing the potential of indigenous knowledge to mobilize innovative and suitable responses to climate change;
  3. Welcomes with satisfaction a request for international assistance that highlights for the first time the contribution of intangible cultural heritage to the major challenge that food security represents for sustainable development;
  4. Recalls that the purpose of the assistance provided to States Parties from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund is to support them in their efforts to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage in line with the principles and objectives of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage;
  5. Recommends that the State Party fully involve the rural communities holding indigenous knowledge in the preparation of the request as well as in the planning and implementation of the activities by emphasizing the reinforcement of their safeguarding capacities with a view to improving their living conditions in a sustainable manner;
  6. Encourages the State Party to become more involved in the implementation of the project and to set up an effective coordination mechanism with all relevant agencies in order to enable the results of the project to be integrated as fully as possible into national development policies.