25.09.2017 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

Regional Study reveals urgent need for cultural indicators in Eastern Africa region

(c)Chiharu Shiota, The Key in the Hand, Japan Pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia, 2015, photo by Sunhi Mang, Italy/Japan

UNESCO commissioned a 2017 study to map the status of cultural indicators and statistics in the region.

In the framework of the UNESCO 2005 Convention for the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions, UNESCO commissioned this study to gain an understanding of the current status of cultural indicators and statistics in the 13 countries covered by the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa: Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, Somalia, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda. The results of the study have provided the basis for a regional project proposal developed in collaboration with the UNESCO Institute of Statistics and aimed at building capacity for obtaining regular indicators that can guide effective cultural policy in the region.

Ms. Yarri Kamara, an expert from the UNESCO 2005 Convention Expert facility, was engaged to carry out the study and develop the regional project proposal. The 2017 study focuses on economic indicators in the cultural sector, but not exclusively since the culture sector is multidimensional. While cultural policy in some countries focuses on cultural industries promotion; in others, policy focuses more on heritage preservation and promotion, promoting national identity and social cohesion or ensuring cultural and/or linguistic diversity. The regional study revealed that indicators on the more social dimensions of culture, such as participation in culture activities, consumption of cultural services/goods, and the domestic content in mass media are also a priority for some countries.

The study starts with a presentation of the methodology used for collecting data to map the current situation of cultural statistics. This is followed by a discussion on some key international and national policy trends that shape the agenda for cultural statistics today in the region. The summarized results of the study are then presented as country profiles in the annexure. Drawing on these results, recommendations for future action on cultural statistics are made in the conclusion.

Given the low level of policy attention and budgets allocated to the cultural sector in almost all the countries in the region, the project proposal aims to contribute above all to the availability of cultural statistics that can advocate for increased funding and policy attention to the sector. A key concern for UNESCO is ensuring effective integration of the cultural sector in national development plans and strategies. The regional study showed that policymakers today tend to be most responsive to indicators on the economic dimension of culture; in particular, the sector’s contribution to employment (and in some cases, specifically youth employment given the significant youth bulge in several Eastern African countries) and to GDP. Excitement on a global scale generated in the past decade about the growth and growth potential of the cultural or creative industries, has also served to pique interest for economic indicators on the cultural sector. The proposed capacity building project would involve national authorities, universities and other stakeholders from the region in order to develop a system for obtaining yearly national indicators that demonstrate the impact of culture on economic and sustainable development in the Eastern Africa region. UNESCO is actively seeking funding for the regional project proposal.

Both the research study and project proposal build upon existing UNESCO resources, namely:

  • The UNESCO Culture for Development Indicators (CDIS), a pioneering research and advocacy initiative that aims to establish a set of indicators highlighting how culture contributes to development at the national level fostering economic growth, and helping individuals and communities to expand their life choices and adapt to change.
  • The UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS) revised Framework for Cultural Statistics (FCS), a tool for organizing cultural statistics both nationally and internationally.

Read the results of the regional study here (available in English only).

Related links:

About the Culture for Development Indicators

Diversity of Cultural Expressions: Development Indicators

UNESCO Institute for Statistics: Framework for Cultural Statistics

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