Southern African Intangible Cultural Heritage Cooperation

Measurable Impact

The impact of the on-going UNESCO-Flanders sub-regional project on ICH safeguarding has been considerable and it is measurable. Since the creation of the SAICH Platform in 2015, the seven participating countries have engaged in a whole range of activities that speak to the objectives of the project. Most of these activities were carried out and reported separately by the participating countries but within the framework agreed to, and the work plans presented, at the SAICH Platform coordination workshops.

Almost a hundred ICH elements were uploaded on the SAICH database, a number of international assistance requests were submitted by some of the countries participating in the project with positive results, one joint nomination was made which is likely to be listed by UNESCO on the Representative List, and a number of other cross-border ICH elements that are found in the sub-region were identified as candidates for future multinational nominations.

Members of the SAICH Platform participating countries agreed that cooperation in ICH safeguarding should continue in the sub-region even during those periods when there was no funded project for the grouping of seven grouping as a whole. A focus area for future cooperation will be multinational nominations. During the life of UNESCO/Flanders ICH safeguarding project, technical capacity was enhanced adequately to service the seven participating countries. Delegates attending the closing workshop of the last project phase in September 2017 were unanimous that the SAICH Platform team at Chinhoyi University of Technology should continue with its coordination role and that the ICT Tech Hub at the university should maintain the database and continue to offer technical support to the whole grouping of seven countries.

Information Sharing and Networking

The existence of the UNESCO SAICH Platform has created opportunities for sharing of information and networking, exchange activities and partnerships, sharing of ideas on ICH safeguarding activities, as well as working on cross-border inventorying of elements of living heritage in common cultural and linguistic zones in a region where peoples who are related historically are now citizens of neighbouring countries within the Southern Africa region and beyond. Thus the SAICH Platform is already set to become the regional hub of cooperation, networking, exchanges and support services for implementing activities and programmes that link culture, technology and sustainable development.

There are now also real possibilities that universities in the participating countries will grow in expertise in specific cross-disciplinary areas as they collaborate in research and help to inform policy that will create a conducive environment in which the creative and cultural industries can thrive. At the same time, quicker spinoffs are likely to be the development of regional university programs, networking and exchanges.