The Government of Flanders of the Kingdom of Belgium and UNESCO signed a partnership agreement in 1988, creating UNESCO/Flanders Trust Fund. The focus of the cooperation is capacity-building and the construction of a knowledge society.

In 2009, the Flemish Government began supporting the field of intangible cultural heritage by financing “a A series of pilot projects in community-based intangible heritage inventorying on a grassroots level in six selected countries in Sub-Saharan Africa” ($275,000 USD). In 2010 and beyond, the Flemish Government intends to strengthen its support for safeguarding intangible heritage by funding more capacity-building in Africa and the development of concepts and materials for a travelling exhibition on the theme of intangible heritage and sustainable development.

In April 2010, the Flemish Government contributed to the exhibition entitled ‘Recognizing Our Cultural Heritage: an American and Flemish Dialogue’

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A series of pilot projects in community-based intangible heritage inventorying on a grassroots-level in six selected countries in Sub-Saharan Africa09-2009/12-2011, Botswana - Lesotho - Malawi - Uganda - Swaziland - Zambia

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The project was implemented by conducting a series of pilot ICH inventory-making activities, on a grassroots level, in six beneficiary Sub-Saharan African countries, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Uganda, Swaziland and Zambia. It was composed of four phases:

  1. Phase I dealt with the selection of six pilot communities (one in each country) in a demand-driven manner;
  2. Phase II was the initial capacity-building training workshops that took place in all six abovementioned countries;
  3. Phase III included several months of fieldwork involving the selected communities and cultural officers to inventory ICH; and
  4. Phase IV was follow-up sessions that were organized to evaluate the quality of exercises and improve methodologies.

Several achievements that are commonly shared by the six participating countries:

  • Awareness about the concept of intangible cultural heritage, the 2003 Convention, as well as the importance of ICH in society was raised;
  • The capacity of the communities, government institutions and civil society was built and they were encouraged to support intangible cultural heritage safeguarding and inventorying;
  • Capacity in inventorying and other ICH safeguarding measures was reinforced among national and regional cultural officers and members of the communities;
  • Measures for continued safeguarding and inventorying at national and community levels were devised;
  • The traditional leadership was very much involved as some helped with resources which showed how welcoming they were as they also gave vital information. This made it possible for the field workers to work freely within the communities;
  • The involvement of youths was recognized during the inventorying exercises.