Harnessing cultural statistics for sustainable development in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is ready to embark upon gathering cultural statistics. A workshop organised by UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa, gathered participants from the government, civil society, bilateral embassies and UN agencies to explore the best methods for collecting a solid evidence base in order to measure the impact of cultural resources.

The Executive Breakfast forum on 21 March initiated a major thrust in development and consolidation of cultural statistics in Zimbabwe with stakeholders committing to support the process of collecting cultural statistics in the country using the UNESCO Culture for Development Indicators (CDIS). It called for forging strategic partnerships for sustainable development through culture in Zimbabwe.

A workshop followed the forum from 22 to 24 March to review a statistical annex of  the Quadrennial Periodic Report submitted in 2016 as part of the country’s monitoring of progress on the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which Zimbabwe ratified in 2008. The annex provides statistical information about government’s expenditure on culture, exports/imports of cultural goods, contribution of culture to GDP, and national landscape of books, music, media, issues of connectivity/access, as well as cultural participation.

International expert from the 2005 Convention Expert Facility, Alfonso Castellanos and UNESCO regional cultural advisor for Southern Africa, Damir Dijakovic, presented examples from the region and guided discussions for how better to ensure statistical data in Zimbabwe.

Discussions centred on advocating for a multi-year programme for a national cultural statistics framework development which will inform policy, strategic planning as well as monitoring and evaluation of cultural projects. 

A “game-changer”

Stakeholders who attended the workshop said collection of cultural statistics would be a game-changer in the way people perceive culture’s contribution to development.

“The workshop has given an opportunity for government, civil society and parastatals in charge of culture to share common positions and a future vision on how we can improve the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the 2005 Convention” remarked Josh Nyapimbi of Nhimbe Trust, a civil society organisation.

Dr. Biggie Samwanda, Director of Culture in the Ministry of Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to take the collection of cultural statistics seriously, as they “will help us understand how the culture sector is contributing to development and also assist us in developing evidence-based policies.”

This event was part of a series of consultations and workshops situating growth in the cultural sector as a key pillar of work for attaining the goals in the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework strategy 2016-2020 for sustainable development.

With the assistance of the Swedish government, through a UNESCO programme entitled “Enhancing fundamental freedoms through the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions”, Zimbabwe has strengthened inclusive policy dialogue between the government and civil society. The initial gathering of cultural statistics in Zimbabwe was supported by the International Fund for Cultural Diversity of the 2005 Convention.