Financial assistance, a key mechanism for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in Africa

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Senegal is about to conclude an eighteen-month project to safeguard traditional music accompanying various events of social life (rituals and celebrations related to birth, death, initiation, agriculture and fishing) as well as myths and legends associated with them. The project, funded by the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund up to 80,000 USD, aims at reinvigorating the intergenerational transmission chain of intangible cultural heritage and at strengthening the capacity of the communities concerned in inventorying it. The results of the inventory will be included in a publicly accessible database established on this occasion.

Five African countries (Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Senegal and Uganda) currently receive international financial assistance of nearly one million dollars in total for projects supported by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. These projects notably develop safeguarding plans and elaborate inventories with the full participation of the communities concerned. Some countries have chosen to target a limited number of elements: Senegal focuses on traditional music, Kenya on Mijikenda Kayas, and Uganda concentrates on the intangible heritage of four specific communities. Burkina Faso and Mali prefer a more comprehensive action at national level.

The 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage provides the possibility for States Parties to request international assistance for programmes and projects aimed at safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. Financed by the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund, requests up to 25,000 USD can be submitted at any time and are approved by the Bureau of the Committee. Requests greater than 25,000 USD are approved by the Committee and must be submitted on or before 31 March of each year (see form ICH-04 and its instructions from the forms page). Do not miss the deadline !

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