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Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Development Programme


Duration: 2008-

Status: Ongoing

Partners: UNESCO Dar es Salaam, Dutch Embassy in Tanzania, Department of Antiquities Tanzania, Department of Antiquities Zanzibar, Harbour Authorities Zanzibar, Marine Parks, National Museums of Tanzania, Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI), University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzanian Ministry of National Resources and Tourism, Zanzibar House of Wonders Museum.



Our programme with Tanzania is focused around selected 'Legacy Sites', chosen to represent the broad maritime and underwater cultural heritage of Tanzania. These Legacy Sites capture multiple different heritage aspects and represent more than a single event or site. Each of the Legacy Sites belong to a maritime landscape, including submerged and terrestrial sites, representing the multiple facets of Tanzanian heritage. These Legacy Sites were also selected as they are all inscribed upon the World Heritage Liste, possessing 'Universal Value' of world significance. 


Our Legacy Sites in Tanzania are:

Mafia Island

Kilwa Kisimani



In order to contribute towards the protection and preservation of coastal heritage sites and create an environment where heritage contributes to economic development and the sustainable use of sites, training initiatives are essential. CIE believes that it is vital for communities to drive the process, to ensure the long-term sustainability of such heritage activities. Therefore in-line with CIE's philosophy this project is community-centred, seeking to encourage them to take ownership of these sites and empower them to become the custodians of this heritage


In order to achieve this, CIE works with a local Tanzanian team, conducting training in order to advance their skills in maritime archaeology. This training includes promoting national and local management, archaeological best practices and promotion of maritime and underwater cultural heritage through tourist initiatives and sustainable community-based activities.


The Aims:

Our programme seeks to promote and protect these maritime heritages through creating an environment in which the communities at these sites can take ownership of their heritage. 


We work towards this through regular community consultation, workshops and training activities, in order to ensure that this programme continues to develop along a path which is suited to the local conditions and needs. This will further contribute to the development of more community-driven management strategies and capacity-building processes.


The knowledge and academic research about these Legacy Sites will be further enhanced through archaeological surveys, site documentation and capacity building initiatives, allowing the empowered community to continue to expand upon previous research and to develop and conduct their own in the future.


To make this programme more sustainable in the long-term, partnerships with universities and training agencies will be sought to conduct and undertake activities such as field schools. These insitutions can then continue to contribute expertise and support for the development of academic frameworks and the curricular activities. So far CIE has conducted fieldwork and cooperative efforts with the University of Dar es Salaam and New York University Abu Dhabi  


The Team:

Expert from CIE work with the local communities in Tanzania; offering training, workshops, consultation and practical assessments as well as underwater excavation experience. As we hold a licence to conduct training in underwater archaeological investigations in accordance with the Nautical Archaeological Society (NAS) training standards, we therefore regularly provide beginners and more advanced courses annually in Tanzania.


The team of maritime archaeological professionals we are working with are made up of local professionals from various government departments and institutions. They have been trained and provided with the tools, experience and guidance to carry out surveys and assessments of maritime and underwater sites. They have been given experience in carrying out archaeological survey and assessments on both terrestrial and submerged sites.


Their activities have laid the foundation for the extended maritime and underwater cultural heritage programme; to identify, survey, assess, manage and present the maritime landscape of Tanzania.



This project aims to develop cultural heritage centres at the three Legacy Sites, which will become central foci for training activities, awareness raising and stimulation of academic research. These centres will provide the central infrastructure for activites being developed throughout the programme, whilst being driven by community inputs. 


The stimulation of academic knowledge, research and exchange will also be achieved through the creation of a maritime and underwater cultural heritage database, as a tool for storing the collected data for inter-site comparisons. This database can be used then as a research tool and to monitor these underwater sites.


Through these activities including documentation, community outreach, development of public-private partnerships and cultural heritage centres, it will stimulate the creation of tourist initiatives such as tourism trails, accessibility of information and public access both physically and emotionally. This environment will help foster economic development and positive social spin-off effects, thus ensuring that the protection and promotion of these sites is also relevant for the local communities.   



Progress Report of the underwater cultural heritage management programme; 2010

Tanzania underwater cultural heritage brochure

Memorandum of Understanding signed between CIE and the Tanzanian Stakeholders

A Leaflet on MUCH in Tanzania. 

Africa World Heritage Fund (AWHF) Proposal


Status: Complete

Duration: 2010

Partners: Africa World Heritage Fund (AWHF)



In Southern Africa there is a clear need to increase the understanding of the value of cultural heritage amongst the local communities, particularly the richness that is underwater cultural heritage. Underwater and maritime sites have been very little explored, especially in Africa, yet they contain a wealth of knowledge on the past, such as the relationship with the coastal communities with the sea, which is at most times taken for granted.  Africa has witnessed many voyages of discovery and trading activities, which have left thousands of shipwrecks on Africa’s coasts and formation of new cultures. Some of these trade routes were interlinked with the trade in human beings and the world merging of cultures, which subsequently redefined Africa and its coastal landscapes. 


Heritage Cooperation:

In 2010 CIE assisted South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Namibia and Kenya in developing a project proposal to meet this need, which was submitted to the AWHF. The project involves the implementation of pilot investigations for regional cooperation and capacity building on Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage (MUCH), for countries that have ratified the UNESCO World Heritage Convention 1972. 


A number of World Heritage Sites including Lamu in Kenya, Zanzibar and Kilwa in Tanzania, Ilha de Mozambique, and Robben Island in South Africa, with related maritime and underwater cultural heritage sites will form the basis for investigation and development of strategic management plans within a local, national and regional context. 


The projects began to be implemented from 2011


Sub-Saharan Regional Collaboration

Status: Complete

Duration: 2010

Partners: South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA), Robben Island Museum, Africa World Heritage Fund (AWHF), Departments of Arts and Culture (DAC) South Africa



A regional meeting on Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage (MUCH) was held at Robben Island in South Africa from 17th-19th February 2010. This international workshop had participants from Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Kenya


At this meeting it was decided to form a MUCH regional group, in order strengthen the collaboration in this area. The group formulated a number of goals and objectives for the group to pursue in the future. These were written down in the African Regional MUCH Agreement, signed by all participants at the Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island. 



MUCH regional group collaboration statement



This collaboration has resulted in a number of productive efforts. For example the group developed a grant application which was submitted to the African World Heritage Fund for a five year project focused upon capacity building around MUCH activities associated with the World Heritage Convention and World Heritage Sites in the participating countries. 


CIE as an organisation provides support to this group in their activities and proposals.


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