On 19 February 2018, UNESCO joined the Commission of Culture and Sports of Eritrea and high-level government officials and community representatives to open a two-week workshop through 28 February as part of the UNESCO project:‘Strengthening the capacities of Eritrea for implementing the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage’, which is financed from earmarked contributions from the Kingdom of Norway to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund.
During his opening remarks on 19 February 2018, Ambassador Zemede Tecle, Commissioner for Culture and Sports in Eritrea, highlighted the national efforts deployed to increase heritage education as well as research, training, awareness-raising (including through media coverage) of intangible cultural heritage in Eritrea. He said the country is focusing on communities and especially youth in their national safeguarding efforts.
The opening ceremony included a live cultural performance by youth representing the music, dance, songs and storytelling traditions of the nine ethno-linguistic groups of Eritrea.
The UNESCO project aims to support the State Party of Eritrea with safeguarding their intangible cultural heritage through the effective implementation of the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which Eritrea ratified in 2010. The capacity building workshops intend to build a critical level of experience and knowledge, both in government institutions, civil society and in selected communities, so that the country is equipped with an appropriate sustainable framework for safeguarding intangible heritage and implementing the 2003 Convention on a long-term basis.
The first phase of the project focused on strengthening policy, legal and institutional frameworks, and resulted in the development of Eritrea’s first national cultural heritage legislation in 2015. The second phase supported capacity building in community-based inventorying and digital archiving of intangible cultural heritageamong the nine ethno-linguistic groups of Eritrea. This third and final phase includes the current workshop on preparation of nomination files and international assistance requests to the 2003 Convention Fund.
Following the workshop, the State Party will designate a National Committee and develop an Action Plan for the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Eritrea.