The Zanzibar Workshop: CfAS and ISDAf tackle African Cultural Heritage Management

The Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis (CfAS) partnered with the Initiative for Sustainable Development in Africa (ISDAf) to sponsor a collaborative workshop in Zanzibar, Tanzania August 13-16, 2022 to investigate the impact of insufficient coordination with Local, Indigenous and Descendant (LID) communities during the scoping, planning and development of infrastructure, and large-scale conservation projects. With funding from the Wenner Gren Foundation and the SRI Foundation, the working group consisted of 14 collaborators from Africa (Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, and Senegal), Europe (Germany, France, and the United Kingdom), and North America (Canada and the United States).  The working group noted that cultural heritage is not addressed adequately in most Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) and Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) because current environmental guidelines in many African countries ignore or undervalue cultural heritage, or ministries requesting such studies are not empowered to effectively require the studies. Indeed, in many countries in Africa, no nationwide standards, let alone legislation, exist to guide cultural heritage studies. Not surprisingly, LID communities are not: (1) fully informed about projects and their potential impacts on the community and its heritage resources, and (2) are never informed about the outcomes of EIR and ESIA studies after a project is finished. The working group identified three Action Points, each with a list of recommendations for policies, procedures, and regulations, to help preserve/manage cultural heritage resources and ensure LID communities are more thoroughly integrated in project planning, design and implementation. These are: 1. Establish Standards and Improve Legislation; 2. Raise the Profile of Cultural Heritage; and 3. Engage LID Communities. The working group’s report to the Wenner Gren Foundation can be found here. The working group is meeting in January 2023 to pursue policy changes in East African countries.

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