Incorporating traditional knowledge Systems in management and safeguarding activities

Through the recognition of the cultural significance of the site, an important aspect for the effective management and conservation of Mosi-Oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls has been the inclusion of traditional knowledge systems in the integrated management plan for the site. The spiritual and religious values of the site are of high importance for communities and people and their maintenance, management and conservation is carried out traditionally by these communities. These values are embodied by the shrines located in various sites of the site.

The inclusion of these practices as part of the integrated management strategy of the site has led to an enhanced commitment and responsibility from these communities and vitalized the cooperation with the institutions involved in the management of the site. Community stewardship is a key strategic objective of the management activities.

As culture is not static but dynamic in nature, it is important to document the belief and practices of the cultural practices attached to the falls. It is important to acknowledge that by site management facilitating traditional practices in the site, it solidifies the sense of ownership among the communities and local people. This is important in ensuring effective management of the site values is attained.

Site Managers should understand that their roles in managing World Heritage properties requires them to identify, understand and appreciate all the values embodied in their respective sites. This includes the recognition and appreciation of the cultural significance of the site and acknowledging the key role played by communities in the conservation of these values.

Site managers have been recognizing and including cultural values as part of the management strategy and this has been a big step towards fostering the link between the site and local communities.

The recognition of traditional knowledge as part of the management strategy of the site has allowed for the positive involvement of key stakeholders and communities and in creating means of stewardships and empowerment that has motivated local actors in becoming more engaged with the site and its conservation. Traditional know how and their practice have become an important aspect in strengthening the role of local communities and actors in decision making and in the overall governance structure of the site. With the engagement of community representatives in the steering committee, the relevance of communities and the traditional know how is today also reflected in the decision-making processes of the joint steering committee.