UNESCO National Office for Palestine, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture (MoC), organized the first training sessions for Gaza institutions on ‘Introduction on the Effective Implementation of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)’. The training falls within the framework of strengthening national capacities for the safeguarding of Palestine’s living heritage. 

Due to several restrictions imposed on the Gaza strip, the training was successfully convened online, on 26-28 October and on 4-5 November 2020. The training covered an overview of the objectives and key concepts of the 2003 Convention, an introduction to community-based inventorying, issues of ethics and responsibilities, information generation methods and techniques, and putting community-based inventorying into practice.

Ms. Iman Hammouri and Ms. Maissoun Sharqawi, two Palestinian facilitators from the Global Network of Facilitators, delivered the training from the UNESCO premises through Zoom platform to ten active participants from various institutions including government agencies, civil society and academic representatives.

 

The safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage relies on its bearers and communities, the participatory process is therefore a key aspect for the viability of living heritage. It is crucial to keep an active dialogue open between institutions, cultural organizations and the civil society all over Palestine to ensure sustainable and effective safeguarding measures and keep intangible heritage alive for future generations    

Mr. Giovanni Scepi, the Head of Culture Unit at UNESCO National Office for Palestine

Given the importance of community-based participation in the pilot inventorying activity, UNESCO National Office for Palestine and the ICH facilitators have identified Nawa for Culture and Arts Association to conduct a pilot inventorying activity on food processing – date culture, in order to reflect the field practice from within the Gaza community and for it to be presented to the training participants. We consider this pilot inventorying exercise an approach which could be used as a model to be adapted in critical circumstances including the time of pandemic.

 

One of the participants, Manal Awad, an architect, expressed her enthusiasm in regard to the training, underlining how the knowledge and skills she gained increased her “sensitivity towards our intangible cultural heritage”. Also, she indicated her newly developed passion to start compiling a number of intangible cultural heritage elements, “This session contributed to broadening my perceptions and attention to the richness of our Palestinian heritage, as there are a number of living practices that many Palestinians have in our cities, villages, and refugee camps that need to be inventoried and documented.” In addition, “more work needs to be put in to increase awareness [of ICH] among the younger generations, especially regarding documenting it” she stressed.

 

This training is part of a broader project that aims to support Palestine in its efforts to safeguard its living heritage on the one hand and to strengthen policies and institutional capacities in this field. The training was designed based on needs identified earlier with the Ministry of Culture and other national partners.