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Kenya strengthens national capacities for collecting Cultural Indicators

Some of the participants of the Capacity Building workshop on Cultural Indicators for Sustainable Development in Kenya ©KNATCOM

The Kenya National Commission for UNESCO hosted a three-day national workshop from 26 to 28 January 2021 to increase capacities in collecting cultural statistics for sustainable development of the culture and creative sector in Kenya. The three-day workshop, which is part of a UNESCO Participation Programme project, attracted over 45 representatives from government institutions, civil society organizations, and county culture officials. It was led by four national experts--Prof. Kimani Njogu, Ms. Joy Mboya, Mr. Peter Nderitu and Dr. Garnette Oluoch-Olunya—who had participated in a UNESCO Expert Training Workshop on the Culture|2030 Indicators in June 2020, which introduced them to the technical methodology and guidance on data collection and implementation of the Culture|2030 Indicators at national and local levels.

In her opening remarks shared via video message, Prof. Jyoti Hosagrahar, Deputy Director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, introduced the forum to the thematic indicators for measuring culture's role and contribution to the United Nations 2030 Agenda. She emphasized that this richer, more nuanced approach to measuring how culture contributes and supports the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals would enable enhanced safeguarding of cultural heritage and the promotion of the creative economy in sustainable urban development.

The Secretary General of the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO, Ms. Evangeline Njoka, highlighted the timeliness of this initiative, as it coincides with the African Union "Year of Arts, Culture and Heritage" and the UN “International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development", both in 2021, which call upon AU and UN Member States to renew and strengthen measures to protect and promote cultural heritage and foster creativity.

The workshop facilitators shared the Culture|2030 indicators framework, which outlines four key thematic dimensions: Environment & Resilience; Prosperity & Livelihoods; Knowledge and skills; and Inclusion and participation, used to make culture’s contribution to sustainable development visible.

Mr. Benjamin Muchiri from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics gave a detailed presentation on the classification of cultural industries in official statistics, which included a demonstration of the draft data collection tool for the culture sector.

Invited as a special guest, Dr. Biggie Samwanda, Director for Arts, Culture Promotion and Development at the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation in Zimbabwe, shared the Zimbabwe experience of setting up structures to ensure cultural statistics are captured in national surveys and processes. He explained the successful strategy of seconding an officer from the Ministry in charge of culture to the national statistics bureau, whose role was to collect data on culture. Through this mechanism, the sector was not only able to collect reliable data to insert through appropriate channels, but it also had access to pertinent data to influence culture policy. Moreover, he demonstrated how Zimbabwe has systematically built institutions that enable the culture sector to thrive, notably the National Arts Council, which plays a pivotal role in organizing action and building partnerships for support from the public and private sectors. As Kenya is embarking upon the collection of cultural indicators and preparing to establish a National Arts Council, the insights shared from Zimbabwe's experience were of particular interest to the Kenyan participants.

It is inspiring to see the peer exchange between Kenya and Zimbabwe taking place as part of this process. I applaud Kenya's efforts to begin systematically collecting national cultural statistics in order to demonstrate the contribution of culture to sustainable development. I sincerely hope that other countries in the Eastern Africa region will follow Kenya’s lead in raising national capacities for the collection of cultural indicators.
Ms. Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Director & Representative, UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa

The forum referenced UNESCO's portfolio of Culture Conventions extensively as important sources for national statistics data, notably the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. It also considered various information sources for data on the UNESCO web site, including:

At the end of the workshop, the participants endorsed a recommendation to set up a multi-sector National Culture Sector Statistics Working Committee, which will support data collection, and develop sector plans for Kenya's culture and creative industries. In addition, a follow-up workshop which will focus on capacity building for county cultural officers from across the country is planned for 16 to19 February 2021.

For more information on the project “Strengthening National Capacities for Cultural Indicators/Statistics in Kenya”, please contact the Kenyan National Commission for UNESCO: https://unesco.go.ke/