Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mali: UNESCO approves emergency funds to evaluate state of Mali’s intangible heritage

Sankore mosque in Mali’s fabled city of Timbuktu. Photo: UNESCO/F. Bandarin

28 October 2013 – A United Nations committee has approved an emergency assistance package of $307,307 for a two-year project to evaluate the state of intangible heritage throughout Mali, beginning with the northern regions that suffered the most from recent armed conflict and occupation.

The decision was taken today in Paris by the Bureau of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, according to a news release issued by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The project will evaluate the state of intangible heritage – knowledge and practices related to nature, oral traditions, songs, rituals, festivals and traditional crafts – throughout the West African nation.

During the first year, the project will cover the three northern regions of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu, along with Mopti in the east-central region. Northern Mali was occupied by radical Islamists after fighting broke out in January 2012 between Government forces and Tuareg rebels.

The conflict uprooted hundreds of thousands of people and prompted the Malian Government to request assistance from France to stop the military advance of extremist groups. Evaluations will be carried out in the rest of the country during the second year.

The project also includes workshops to strengthen capacities in inventory techniques and intangible heritage management methods that will benefit 190 people. In addition, two plays will be produced, along with a documentary film and a radio programme, to raise public awareness about intangible cultural heritage.

In its decision, the Bureau encouraged Mali to “implement the project in close cooperation with UNESCO and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and with the widest possible participation of the communities concerned.”

MINUSMA was set up in April by the UN Security Council to support Mali’s recovery from conflict, its transition back to stability and democratic governance, and the promotion of human rights and provision of humanitarian aid.