Portal de la Cultura de América Latina y el Caribe
ICH inventory capacity-building in eastern Cuba
 
 
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30 October 2015/UNESCO Havana/Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean/ National Cultural Heritage Council (CNPC)

A capacity-building workshop for the elaboration of inventories of traditional medicine and medicinal plants was conducted from 20 to 24 October in Quiviján, a rural community located in the municipality of Baracoa, in the province of Guantánamo, in Cuba’s easternmost region.

This training forms part of the project “Safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage expressions of Quiviján, in Guantánamo, Cuba, relative to natural and traditional medicine”, which began to be implemented in June of the present year.

For the development of the project, UNESCO has joined forces with the WHO/PAHO representation in Cuba, which counts with a strategy for natural and traditional medicine during the 2014-2023 period, in close collaboration with Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health.

The programme included work sessions with numerous community members, most of whom were women, as well as representatives from local institutions.

With Adriana Molano, Colombian anthropologist and UNESCO consultant, working as facilitator, the knowledge bearers of traditional medicine in the community, as well as the natural leaders able to transfer this knowledge, were identified during the first session.

In addition, the bearers offered details of their knowledge not only of medicinal plants, but of other rich traditions existing in the community. This provided an ideal setting for the facilitator to introduce the main concepts of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, parting from Quivijan’s own intangible richness.

The workshop included four exercises: “Cultural Cartography”, for mapping medicinal plants in the territory; “The Body and Plants”, a graphic tool to promote reflection on the medicinal resources in the territory and their use by human beings; “Calendar of Traditions regarding Medicinal Plants”, which was enhanced with other expressions of the rich intangible heritage present in the community; and “Interview with a Bearer”, which not only made it possible to offer interview techniques, but also attest to the interviewee’s ample knowledge.

The capacity-building activity was highly useful to community members. It enabled them to obtain the technical tools needed to safeguard their treasured heritage, and also to become aware of the richness of their heritage and realize that they should not only preserve, but also manage this heritage as a means to promote the development of their community.

As a result of the workshop, the cultural promoters living in the territory perceived the need to transfer this knowledge within the community, and expressed their willingness to schedule capacity-building workshops for this purpose.

Another result is the proposal of a contract to be signed whereby the bearers would supply the raw material needed by the pharmacy of traditional medicine in the municipality, a step that would create new jobs.

In charge of the general organization of the workshop were Alejandro Hartmann Matos, Historian of Baracoa, with the support of museologist Clara Elena Muguercia Jardinez and cultural promoter Betania Arcia.

The event also counted with the participation of Ariadna Zequeira Barrera, Intangible Cultural Heritage specialist from Cuba’s National Cultural Heritage Council (CNPC); Dailín Revé Salazar, representative of Guantanamo’s Provincial Centre for Cultural Heritage; Dr Yuri Pons, from the Municipal Department of Public Health in Baracoa; as well as representatives of the political and government organizations in the territory.

This activity is held within the framework of the project “Use of cultural resources for job creation and sustainable development in Cuba”, an integrated action programme for 2014-2017 designed and developed by the UNESCO Office in Havana.

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