Decision of the Bureau: 12.COM 2.BUR 4.7

The Bureau,

  1. Recalling Chapter V of the Convention and Chapter I of the Operational Directives,
  2. Having examined Document ITH/17/12.COM 2.BUR/4, as well as International Assistance request no. 01305,
  3. Takes note that Zimbabwe has requested International Assistance for a project entitled Inventory of indigenous knowledge holders, knowledge and practices in traditional medicine in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe:

In line with the increased attention paid by the Government of Zimbabwe to indigenous knowledge as a valuable resource in the field of healthcare, environment protection and cultural heritage preservation, the project aims to conduct an inventory of indigenous knowledge holders, knowledge and practices relating to traditional medicine in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe. Designed as a pilot programme at the provincial level forming part of a larger inventory programme at the national level, the project intends to develop a database of traditional health practitioners in order to identify the population from which indigenous knowledge relating to traditional medicine can be harnessed. The Department of Nanotechnology Programme in the Ministry of Higher, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology will coordinate the implementation of the project. The planned activities include awareness-raising meetings with traditional health practitioners and community leaders to raise awareness of the value of their cultural heritage and its safeguarding, the purchase of equipment to support the documentation process,  training for relevant stakeholders on documentation, field interviews with traditional health practitioners and the documentation of their knowledge and practices, data compilation and analysis in order to prepare an inventory report and the establishment of a knowledge management system for traditional medicine in Zimbabwe. The project is also expected to contribute to raising awareness among traditional health practitioners about the Convention and to better equip them to safeguard indigenous knowledge and technologies.

  1. Further takes note that this assistance concerns support for a project carried out at the local level aimed at safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in accordance with Article 20 (c) of the Convention, and that it takes the form of the granting of a donation in line with Article 21 (g) of the Convention;
  2. Also takes note that Zimbabwe requested an allocation of US$99,714 from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the implementation of the project;
  3. Decides that, from the information provided in file no. 01305, the request responds as follows to the criteria for granting International Assistance set out in paragraphs 10 and 12 of the Operational Directives:
Criterion A.1: Although the participation of traditional health practitioners is anticipated at different stages of the project (through field interviews, data analysis, awareness-raising meetings on the Convention, etc.), the mechanisms for ensuring their widest possible participation in the implementation, follow-up and evaluation of the proposed activities are not demonstrated; sometimes presented as trained interviewers and sometimes as mere passive providers of information and consent, the request remains ambiguous about the relative role of traditional health practitioners in the implementation of the project, particularly concerning their possible control over the use of the information they may accept to provide; the vague reference to traditional health practitioners and community leaders as well as the lack of clarity about the role of the Network for Traditional Medicine Practitioners, which is supposed to represent the traditional health practitioners, makes it impossible to clearly discern the participation of the latter in the project; in the absence of any information on how the request responds, to some extent, to the needs identified by the traditional health practitioners themselves, their own relation to their knowledge and practices also seems to be neglected in favour of the establishment of a knowledge management system for traditional medicine responding to national priorities;

Criterion A.2: The amount requested cannot be considered appropriate since the budget does not fully correspond to the planned activities and timetable; certain costs are not included, even though these are major components of the project such as the documentation of indigenous traditional medicine knowledge and practices. Moreover, a number of lump sums are not budgeted in enough detail to provide a sufficient justification of the planned expenditures;

Criterion A.3: The proposed activities are not presented in a logical sequence; for example, the awareness-raising activities for traditional health practitioners are planned to take place after the selection of community members for the inventorying process, which raises questions about the selection criteria; activities more directly related to the safeguarding of traditional medicine as intangible cultural heritage are placed at the beginning and end of the project and the connection with the rest of the project is unclear; there are not enough details about some major activities, particularly concerning the specific methodologies utilized for inventorying training, field work, the documentation and processing of collected data; furthermore, the coordination strategy of the Department of Nanotechnology Programme with the different partners as well as the specific role of each partner, in particular the Network for Traditional Medicine Practitioners, is also insufficiently described in order to be able to conclude on the feasibility and relevance of the proposed activities;

Criterion A.4: The sustainability of the project appears to be subject to the use that could be made of the database of traditional health practitioners by other programmes on health issues such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria; the request does not demonstrate how the inventorying work not only of practitioners but also of their knowledge and practices could be continued or regularly updated and how it could contribute, beyond the end of the project, to ensuring the viability of this indigenous knowledge;

Criterion A.5: The requesting State will share 26 per cent of the overall budget of the project for which International Assistance is requested;

Criterion A.6: While the request makes general statements about the training and awareness-raising activities proposed for traditional health practitioners and communities, it does not demonstrate how they will benefit from these activities to continue their own safeguarding efforts in the future; capacity-building efforts in the project are essentially aimed at the collection of data and the establishment of a knowledge management system of traditional medicine, while the strengthening of traditional health practitioners’ capacities to identify, research, document, promote and transmit their knowledge and practices is hardly addressed; training on inventorying is an important project component, yet it is insufficiently described and the practitioners themselves are not at the core of the knowledge transfer;

Criterion A.7: Zimbabwe has been a beneficiary of International Assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund twice for the projects entitled ‘Manyanga Misumo Protocol (2011; US$12,000), carried out by the Manyanga Traditional Custodians, and Safeguarding cultural heritage aspects’ (2011-2012; US$25,000), implemented by the National Archives of Zimbabwe; the work stipulated by the contracts related to these projects was carried out in compliance with UNESCO regulations. Zimbabwe also received technical assistance in 2017 for the preparation of two International Assistance requests for two projects tentatively entitled ‘Awareness raising of rural councillors on the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage’ and ‘Inter-generational transmission of performing arts heritage of communities in Bulawayo’;

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

Paragraph 10(b): Possible future assistance from other sources is addressed solely in terms of the utilization of the information generated by the project while the request does not explain how it could stimulate further contributions to support the viability of the knowledge and practices concerned;

  1. Decides not to approve the International Assistance request from Zimbabwe for the Inventory of indigenous knowledge holders, knowledge and practices in traditional medicine in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe;
  2. Recalls that the purpose of the assistance provided to State Parties from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund is to support them in their efforts to safeguard intangible cultural heritage as defined in Articles 3 and 2 of the Convention, respectively, and that, therefore, the continued practice and transmission of that heritage cannot be overshadowed by other objectives, as legitimate as these may be;
  3. Recognizes that, in line with the Convention and the Ethical Principles for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage, the aim of inventorying should be to ensure the viability of the intangible cultural heritage concerned, and, while noting the absence of an active role on the part of traditional health practitioners as key actors and main beneficiaries of the request, further recalls that inventorying should be undertaken with the widest possible participation of the communities that create, maintain and transmit such heritage and that customary practices governing access to such heritage should be fully respected even where these may limit broader public access;
  4. Reminds the State Party that International Assistance requests need to demonstrate a rigorous and clear correspondence between the overall objectives and the proposed activities, budget and timetable of the project and provide clear and transparent details through the presentation of an accurate and coherent budget.