To increase the level of responsibility in managing its cultural heritage, Mauritania has put in place since 2016 a new institution called the National Conservation of Heritage and Culture (Conservation Nationale du Patrimoine et de la Culture) which covers all heritage and cultural structures in the country.
This institution is the main authority in charge of managing the tangible and intangible cultural heritage. As for ICH, there is also a national commission of Intangible Cultural Heritage which plays an advisory role in implementing the 2003 Convention.
This commission includes representatives of the communities, researchers and representatives of civil society, in addition to government officials.
Mauritania has implemented the Programme for Promoting Cultural and Natural Heritage for Development (Programme de valorisation du patrimoine culturel et naturel pour le développement - PVPCND).
The PVPCND is part of the government’s overall vision translated into the National Plan for Cultural Development which constitutes the strategic framework for the conservation of cultural heritage and carrying out large-scale cultural actions, including: (i) preparation of a cultural policy; (ii) consolidation of the legal framework regulating the various cultural actions; (iii) recovery of the governmental institutions in charge of culture and (iv) implementation of programmes that can create new dynamics in cultural action.
One component of this programme is specific to the revitalization of the heritage of values (ICH) which concerns mainly safeguarding measures and activities for the Mauritanian ICH.
The setting up of a special fund by the government to finance cultural, youth and sports development activities also constitutes formidable support for implementation of the 2003 Convention.
A national event called “FESTIVAL NATIONAL DES VILLES ANCIENNES” (NATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THE OLD TOWNS”) is organized each year by the Ministry for Culture and Craft in one of the old towns of Mauritania. Six editions of this festival have already taken place. It is an opportunity to promote the country’s cultural heritage, including its intangible cultural heritage.
This festival gives all the communities the chance to present their specific cultures and to benefit from media coverage to create awareness of them throughout the country and beyond.
The public authorities at the highest level regard this event as of particular importance. The President of the Republic has always attended the launch of these events, making an opening speech in which he emphasises national cultural policy and strategy.
Numerous festivals also take place throughout the year across the country, covering all areas of culture (the Néma Peace Festival, the Ain Varba Festival, the Kiffa Festival of Culture, the Kaédi Festival of National Unity, the Aleg Festival of Culture and the Arts, the Badabé Festival of Culture, the Bennechab Festival, etc).
These festivals, of which there are more than 60, constitute an appropriate framework for safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage. They are completely in keeping with the implementation of the 2003 Convention. They raise awareness of and popularize the ICH in Mauritania.