Decision of the Bureau: 15.COM 3.BUR 3.2

The Bureau,

  1. Recalling Article 23 of the Convention as well as Chapter I.4 of the Operational Directives relating to the eligibility and criteria of International Assistance requests,
  2. Having examined document LHE/20/15.COM 3.BUR/3, as well as International Assistance request no. 01637 submitted by Kenya,
  3. Takes note that Kenya has requested International Assistance for the project entitled Safeguarding and promoting the endangered traditions of minority tribes of northern Kenya: a State Party initiative on the indigenous knowledge systems of the El-Molo in lake Turkana:

This thirty-month project, to be implemented by the National Museums of Kenya, is aimed at safeguarding and promoting the endangered indigenous knowledge systems of the El-Molo in Lake Turkana, with a focus on traditional handicrafts and food practices. The project has three key objectives. Firstly, it aims to raise awareness among the El-Molo about the significance of their indigenous knowledge systems and the need to safeguard them for posterity. Secondly, it will enhance the transmission of indigenous knowledge and skills through demonstrations by artisans and traditional food practitioners. In so doing, a Community Art space will be established to provide a platform for continuous engagement and transmission. Thirdly, it aims to stimulate national dialogue and make informed policies on the situation of the El-Molo. Under this initiative, an exhibition will be held at the National Museums of Kenya to enlighten the public about the indigenous knowledge systems of the El-Molo community. As part of the project, two community-based workshops will be organized. The first will be a three-day meeting for thirty bearers of these indigenous knowledge systems, including practitioners involved in beadwork, basketry and food preservation, to illustrate the importance of transmitting the indigenous knowledge behind these practices. The second will be a demonstration workshop for ten skilled practitioners and fifty youths, aimed at encouraging the younger generation to acquire the skills and knowledge linked to handcrafts and food preservation. After this project, it is anticipated that the younger generations will continue to acquire and uphold indigenous knowledge and skills, and that the resulting publicity will trigger the development of appropriate safeguarding and inventorying policies.

  1. Further takes note that this assistance is to support a project implemented at the national level, in accordance with Article 20 (c) of the Convention, and that it takes the form of the provision of a grant, pursuant to Article 21 (g) of the Convention;
  2. Also takes note that Kenya has requested assistance in the amount of US$94,315 from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the implementation of this project;
  3. Decides that, from the information provided in file no. 01637, the request responds as follows to the criteria for granting International Assistance given in paragraphs 10 and 12 of the Operational Directives:
Criterion A.1: The request demonstrates the central role of the El-Molo community in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the project. The participation of communities is intended to be fostered particularly through a wide consultation process with custodians, traditional leaders and practitioners throughout the project, from the awareness-raising meetings to the community-based workshops. However, it would have been important to further demonstrate how the communities will contribute to the identification and development of appropriate safeguarding measures of their threatened indigenous knowledge and skills.

Criterion A.2: The budget is presented in a structured manner. However, the modalities for implementing some of the proposed activities, such as the desk review or the creation of a Community Art Space, are not sufficiently detailed in the request. In addition, there are some calculation errors and lump sums are overused for a number of planned expenditures. In view of all these elements, it is not possible to fully assess the relevance of the amount requested.

Criterion A.3: The request presents eight activities, combining those aimed at sensitizing the community on the importance of safeguarding its living heritage with those specifically focused on increasing the visibility of the endangered indigenous knowledge and handicraft skills of the El-Molo. The proposed activities are not clearly framed, and some activities lack details on their expected results and outcomes. For example, the project foresees that the visibility activities will foster dialogue at the national level on the importance of safeguarding minority groups in Kenya such as the El-Molo. However, this expected result seems ambitious given the scope and timeframe of the project.

Criterion A.4: The project foresees to inventory and promote indigenous knowledge systems of the community concerned in order to safeguard them for posterity. However, additional information is required on several of these activities such as visibility events. For example, the project does not clearly demonstrate how the permanent exhibition in Nairobi will contribute in the long term to the main objective of the project, which is to establish a sustainable strategy for safeguarding the indigenous knowledge of the El-Molo community.

Criterion A.5: The requesting State will share 31 per cent of the overall budget of the project for which International Assistance is requested from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund.

Criterion A.6: The project is aimed at sensitizing the community concerned about the safeguarding of their indigenous knowledge. However, it does not include any specific capacity-building component and does not clearly demonstrate how the community-based workshops and awareness-raising activities would contribute to the capacity building of the community. It is therefore difficult to assess how the project would affect the El-Molo community’s capacity to safeguard and to transmit indigenous knowledge, skills and practices – in the domains of handicrafts and food – and thereby ensure their viability. Lastly, further clarification is needed on how the project would contribute to strengthening national efforts to safeguard indigenous knowledge, as well as some high impact actions such as ‘the formulation of appropriate policies (...) in favour of El-Molo heritage’ and ‘save the disappearance of these communities’, as indicated in the request.

Criterion A.7: Kenya has benefitted from International Assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the following completed projects – ‘Traditions and practices associated with the Kayas in the sacred forests of the Mijikenda’ (file no. 00326, 2011-2014, US$126,580), ‘Documenting and inventorying intangible cultural heritage of the pastoralist Samburu community in northern Kenya: a focus on the region of Mount Kulal biosphere reserve’ (file no. 01024, 2015-2016, US$24,038) and ‘Promotion of traditional pottery making practices in Eastern Kenya’ (file no. 01021, 2016-2017, US$23,388) and ‘Safeguarding of Enkipaata, Eunoto and Olng’esherr, three male rites of passage of the Maasai community’ (file no. 00888, 2017-2020, US$144,430). Kenya also benefitted from Preparatory Assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for developing two nominations for the Urgent Safeguarding List – ‘Traditions and practices associated to the Kayas’ (file no. 00285, 2008-2009, US$6,000) (element inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List in 2009), and ‘Rituals and practices associated with Kit Mikayi shrine of the Luo community in Kenya’ (file no. 00632, 2013-2015, US$17,668) (element inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List in 2019). The work stipulated by the contracts related to these projects was carried out in compliance with UNESCO’s regulations.

Paragraph 10(a): The project is local in scope and is to be implemented by national and local partners.

Paragraph 10(b): The request does not explain how it could stimulate further contributions to support the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage and to ensure its viability.

  1. Decides to refer to the requesting State the International Assistance request for the project entitled Safeguarding and promoting the endangered traditions of minority tribes of northern Kenya: a State Party initiative on the indigenous knowledge systems of the El-Molo in lake Turkana and invites it to submit a revised request to the Bureau for examination at a forthcoming session;
  2. Encourages the State Party, if it wishes to resubmit its request, to revise the content of the project taking into account the above-mentioned concerns, and to ensure, in particular, that there is a clear correspondence between the overall objectives and the proposed activities, budget and timetable of the project.