Documenting and inventorying intangible cultural heritage of the pastoralist Samburu community in northern Kenya: a focus on the region of Mount Kulal biosphere reserve

  • Financial assistance:
    • US$ 24,038 granted in 2015
  • Dates of implementation:
    • 04/12/2015 - 31/05/2016
  • Documents:

Benefitting country(ies): Kenya


The proposed project, which is designed in line with the 2006 National Heritage Act of Kenya, aims to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of the semi-nomadic pastoralist Samburu community living within the Mount Kulal Biosphere Reserve (designated in 1979 through UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere programme) in northern Kenya. Due to external political, economic and cultural influences as well as environmental degradation, the viability of the living heritage is being affected. This concerns essential knowledge for the survival of the Samburu community and the maintenance of social order such as weather prediction rituals, other knowledge related to environmental resource management and rites of passages. The communities living in this arid area (the Samburu but also other communities including the Rendille, Gabbra, Borana and Waata) are in frequent conflict with each other over limited water, pastures and other resources. The inventorying exercise shall pay particular attention to the role that intangible cultural heritage plays in preventing or resolving conflicts and in maintaining social cohesion. Through capacity-building training, to be organized by the National Museums of Kenya, the Samburu community is expected to acquire skills necessary for participating in identifying and inventorying their traditions and practices and safeguarding them. Other planned activities include desk studies, field work and activities related to awareness-raising of the importance of safeguarding the living heritage of the Samburu community.

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