The Republic of Djibouti launches the elaboration of its first National Culture Policy

UNESCO is supporting the Ministry of Muslim Affairs, Culture and Waqf Assets with the development of a national culture policy, which aims to harness the potential of cultural and creative industries, natural and cultural heritage, and intangible cultural heritage to contribute to sustainable development in line with Djibouti’s Vision 2035, African Union’s Agenda 2063 and United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

On 24 January 2019, the Direction of Culture of the Ministry of Muslim Affairs, Culture and Waqf Assets with support from the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, convened 80 national stakeholders to the People’s Palace in Djibouti, including representatives from 13 ministries, local authorities, experts, NGOs, community and media representatives to participate in a national launch and awareness-raising workshop for the development of Djibouti’s first National Culture Policy.

His excellency, Mr. Moumin Hassan Barreh, Minister of Muslim Affairs, Culture and Waqf Assets opened the workshop alongside the Minister of Education (who is also the Secretary General of the Djibouti National Commission for UNESCO) and the Minister of Budget. In his opening remarks, Minister Barreh emphasized the engagement of the President of the Republic of Djibouti in promoting culture for strengthening national identity and social cohesion. “The elaboration of Djibouti’s first National Culture Policy is my number one priority as the Minister responsible for Culture,” Mr. Barreh said. “I invite all of you here today, especially the different Ministries, to take an active part in the creation of this policy so that it reflects the inter-sectorality of Culture, which is at the heart of Djibouti’s economic and sustainable development,” he added.

“During this process, let us not forget the primordial role that languages play in our culture, said Mr. Idriss Moussa Ahmed, Technical advisor to the Minister of Muslim Affairs, Culture and Waqf Assets and former Director of Culture, during the opening ceremony. “Languages are the guardians of our traditional knowledge, of our indigenous cultures, and they ensure the transmission of our culture from generation to generation. They are the soul of our people,” he added. Throughout the workshop, participants highlighted the need to ensure the culture policy is inclusive of Somali, Afar and Arab cultures and languages.

“Djibouti’s national culture policy is being elaborated following the guidance of UNESCO’s 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Culture Expressions,” asserted Mr. Hassan Doualeh, Director of Culture, “and will benefit from the lessons learned from the UNESCO 2018 Global Report: Re-Shaping Culture Policies,” he added.

“We are grateful for the support UNESCO is offering Djibouti to undertake this task; however, it is up to each of us here today—as Djiboutians- to create this policy with our knowledge and personal experiences in various domains of culture, with our needs and with our vision for how culture can contribute to the economic and social development of Djibouti,” said Mr. Mohamed Houssein Doualeh, Director of the National Archives and National Library of Djibouti, which are scheduled to open in September 2019.

Participants called on the Minister of the Budget to increase the national resources directed towards the culture sector, and they called on the Minister of Education to ensure heritage education and training in the cultural and creative sectors is strengthened.

The international expert in culture policy and the creative economy engaged by UNESCO to accompany Djibouti in the development of their culture policy, Ms. Tojo Yharimanana, emphasized the importance of collecting cultural indicators and statistics, which can demonstrate the employment and income generated by the culture sector.

Over the next six months, Ms. Yharimanana will guide the national team and thematic working groups in inventorying the culture sector and identifying the accomplishments and challenges related to the cultural and creative industries, natural and cultural heritage as well as intangible cultural heritage. Youth, gender and religion will be transversal subthemes of each of these working groups, which will draft various sections of the national policy together with its 2 year Action Plan.

The Direction of Culture foresees the completion of the first draft National Policy by June 2019, which will then be submitted for validation to the Council of Ministers by the Minister of Muslim Affairs, Culture and Waqf Assets.