- Takes note that Djibouti has nominated Xeedho (01736) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding: Among the Somali community in Djibouti, Xeedho is a dish given by a mother-in-law to her son-in-law to celebrate the first week of her daughter’s marriage. It consists of a container carved from a tree trunk, made to hold small pieces of dried dromedary meat that is fried in butter and preserved in ghee. The cover, which is made from palm leaf fronds and decorated with leather and shells, is placed over the meat and dates, and the entire arrangement is covered with a white fabric representing a woman’s set of clothes. Women then securely tie woven ropes around the object to give it a feminine shape. On the seventh day after the wedding, a group of women, led by the bride’s mother, carries the Xeedho to the groom while performing traditional songs and dances. The groom and his friends must then try to find and untie the knots in the ropes to open the container. The practice is passed on from women to their daughters and nieces as a means of strengthening social ties between families and of promoting mutual respect and solidarity. However, it is threatened by decreasing interest among younger generations and the lack of formal mechanisms for its transmission and promotion.
- Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:
U.1: The element includes all the skills associated with the preparation of the dish given as a gift by the mother-in-law to her son-in-law on the seventh day of her daughter’s marriage. It is practiced among the entire Somali community in Djibouti and is reserved for women with experience in the tradition. Associated knowledge and skills are transmitted informally, from women to their daughters and nieces. The element consolidates social ties between the two families and is an act of generosity by the mother-in-law. No part of the element contravenes existing human rights law, and the element promotes mutual respect among communities, groups and individuals.
U.2: The file demonstrates that the element is in need of urgent safeguarding. The primary threats to the continued viability of the element include the decline in the number of female practitioners and unwillingness of newer generations to take up the practice of the element. According to the file, transmission is being further weakened as younger generations prefer to give cultural artefacts associated with new urban contexts. Newlyweds furthermore favour urban dishes. A formal framework for the transmission of the element is also lacking.
- Further considers that the information included in the file and the information provided by the submitting State Party through the dialogue process are not sufficient to determine whether the following criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding are satisfied:
U.3: The Ministry of Culture has coordinated training programmes for inventory-making and developing safeguarding plans. The State has also coordinated a study to determine the urgency of safeguarding the element. A safeguarding plan is proposed, but it is not clear who are the communities, groups and individuals concerned with the element, nor is it clear how they were involved in developing the safeguarding plans.
U.4: The file does not provide evidence of wide participation of the concerned bearers and practitioners. Additionally, it speaks of the implementation of a safeguarding plan in terms of what is intended, rather than what will be done with respect to the role of bearers and practitioners. Free, prior and informed consent is also not widely established as evidenced by the letters of consent that accompany the file.
U.5: The element has been included since July 2020 in the pilot inventory register as ‘social practices and know-how associated with the craft industry’. The register is administered by the Directorate of Culture. The identification and definition of the element appear to have been done in collaboration with one practitioner. The inventory is to be completed every two years. However, the process for updating the inventory is not well-explained, nor is it clear how the concerned communities, groups and individuals concerned are involved.
- Decides to refer the nomination of Xeedho to the submitting State Party and invites it to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle;
- Further takes note that Djibouti has requested International Assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund in the amount of US$116,450 for the implementation of the safeguarding plan for Xeedho (no. 01843):
To be implemented by the Ministry of Muslim Affairs, Culture and Wakfs Goods, this project aims to revitalize the practice of Xeedho in Djibouti by organizing Xeedho associations consisting of bearers and community representatives from several regions and transmitting the element to younger generations through training sessions. Other project activities include providing capacity-building workshops for teachers, producing television programmes, debates and spots, developing a training module on the transmission of intangible cultural heritage in general and of Xeedho in particular, and facilitating academic and scientific research and documentation. The project will ensure community participation through the Xeedho association as well as by involving practitioners in the implementation of the planned activities. The State will also participate by helping to manage the project, implementing research and providing financial subsidies. In particular, several ministries, including the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Women, will support the implementation of the plan and transmission of the element. This two-year project is expected to raise awareness about Xeedho and about intangible cultural heritage in general, and to provide the human resources and knowledge necessary to safeguard living heritage in Djibouti.
- Also considers that, from the information included in the file and the information provided by the submitting State through the dialogue process, 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 association of craftswomen of Ali Sabieh, the communities concerned and a single practitioner were involved in the preparation of the safeguarding plan. The implementation of the safeguarding plan will be done through Xeedho associations that will be set up. The State, including the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of National Education, will also be involved in the implementation process.
A.2: The total budget corresponds to a detailed budget breakdown based on the eight activities stated in the nomination file. The budget is also consistent with the time frame and major activities of the project. The sums are reasonably distributed across the various project components, and the largest sum is allocated to the core activities in the request.
A.3: With training in the framework of UNESCO’s global capacity-building programme, the State Party has made an effort to develop a feasible safeguarding strategy. Despite the concerns regarding the availability of practitioners to support the programme in light of the goal to train thirty women in two years, the schedule and timing are aligned with the objectives and the suggested measures are relevant to address the threats to the element.
A.4: The assistance will make it possible to achieve lasting results in accordance with the programme objectives. The State Party will garner experience in awareness raising with respect to Xeedho in particular and intangible cultural heritage in general. The State Party will also build the capacity of staff to respond to challenges related to implementing intangible cultural heritage safeguarding plans and sustaining certain activities, such as those involving communities.
A.5: The total project budget is US$121,450 and the State Party appears to have made some effort to provide funding in the context of its available resources, of which is a contribution amounting to approximately 2.5% of the total. Another US$2,000 is allocated from other sources.
A.6: The file indicates that the project will contribute to building the capacities of the relevant actors to safeguard the element. Over thirty teachers will be trained. In addition, the workshops and other planned activities will provide the opportunity to mobilize and reinforce the capacities of communities, individuals, researchers and bearers for enhanced implementation of the Convention. The communities, in collaboration with the media, will contribute to raising awareness of the importance of safeguarding the element of their intangible cultural heritage through the broadcasting of audio-visual programmes.
A.7: The State Party previously benefited from International Assistance under the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the project entitled ‘Capacity building in community-based inventorying’ (2019; US$82,080). The project was carried out in compliance with UNESCO regulations and was successfully completed.
Paragraph 10(a): Although the file does not mention cooperation beyond the national level, the request demonstrates that Xeedho associations and bearers will be engaged in the implementation of the project at the national level. The State will also be involved in the safeguarding plan through the Ministries of Culture, National Education, Women, Youth, Craft Industry and Decentralization and through local authorities.
Paragraph 10(b): The file states that the requested assistance will provide the foundation for attracting financial and technical contributions from other partners, particularly through the development of publicity and communication tools and of income-generating activities for the bearers. The programme itself will serve as a model for implementing other safeguarding activities, which will together constitute a multiplier effect.
- Decides to approve the International Assistance request from Djibouti for the implementation of the safeguarding plan for Xeedhoand grants the amount of US$116,450 to the State Party to this end;
- Further invites the State Party to use Form ICH-04-Report to report on the use of the assistance granted.