Culture & Development Program

THAAP Culture and Development Program was set up for purposes of working within culture and heritage sectors, to strengthen the nexus between culture and sustainable development and safeguarding communities’ inalienable rights to their culture particularly their Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). THAAP Culture and Development Program works towards social and economic empowerment of the underprivileged village communities especially women by promoting their participation in the economic growth of communities through entrepreneurship and capacity building initiatives, mainly by enhancing non-agricultural income generation opportunities to enhance the village economies. Other programs under Culture and Development include safeguarding of Intangible and Tangible cultural heritage through community led initiatives and transmitting of cultural knowledge to the youth.

Its youth program aims to engage youth in safeguarding heritage and promotes intergenerational transfer of cultural knowledge in schools through collaboration with Intangible Culture tradition bearers. THAAP also maintains a pool of associates who participate in projects as and when needed. Experts and ustads are currently working in South Punjab, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, and Kalaash Valleys with an aim to empower local communities and train them in the Convention 2003 through capacity building initiatives led by Prof. Sajida Vandal, the International Trainer for UNESCO Convention 2003 on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage

THAAP has completed (May 2014) a Women Livelihood and Empowerment Project in South Punjab through a USAID sub-grant titled ‘Strengthening of Hand Embellished Fabric Value Chain in South Punjab’. This targeted 5000 women in 4 districts of South Punjab and was aimed at increasing on average 50% of baseline income. The project has yielded excellent results and THAAP has over achieved in most components for instance the income enhancement in some cases is as high as 1200%, with about 50% of the artisans earning more than 200% of their pre-project earnings, according to the latest Monitoring Reports on Sales maintained by USAID.


Sustainability is an important aspect of this project thus expectations are that the artisans will be able to sustain the achieved levels. Some of the innovations engendered during this Project have been adopted/ adapted by the other sub-grantees of the overall Project of livelihood for 75,000 women.


THAAP was awarded a Project on 24 June, 2014 by the Punjab Skill Development Fund (PSDF) funded by DFID for two districts of South Punjab (Vehari and Rahim Yar Khan). The project aimed to reach 1000 village women in the two districts during the first phase of the project extendable to additional phases. THAAP’s assignment was enhanced to 1526 women during the course of the first phase on the basis of good performance.  The assignment was to train women in Skills for Market under the Project titled ‘Skills for Market 2014-15’ in the Textile and Garment Sector. This again is part of a large nationwide initiative covering various sectors and sub-sectors to engage people with little or no education and equip them with marketable skills and understanding of the market. THAAP has since applied for the next stage of this Project (2015-2016) for 5 districts in South Punjab and expects to be awarded the project through PSDF/DIFID 2 stage competitive bidding


THAAP has been implementing partner for UNESCO, Islamabad on many of its initiatives in Pakistan. It has recently prepared the Teacher’s Resource Kit for the war affected tribal zone of FATA and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa focusing on the Integration of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Education and Learning. The Kit has been well received and tested with KPK and FATA teachers and will now be used to train master trainers to fully incorporate this new dimension in the school system. The Kit is appropriately titled ‘Promoting Peace and Social Cohesion through Integrating Heritage Education in KPK and FATA’.


THAAP was also the implementing partner for UNESCO, Islamabad Pilot Project initiated by UNESCO Regional office at Bangkok for ‘Integrating Intangible Cultural Heritage in Education for Sustainable Development in the Asia Pacific Region’. The framework for intergenerational transfer of cultural knowledge in schools and National Guidelines have been developed in collaboration with 9 partner schools both from the private and public sector and the education departments of KPK, Punjab,  Sind, Baluchistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and ICT. This Project was carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage. THAAP also partnered with the Multan Craft Council in bringing cultural education to the school system in Multan city. 11 schools including 3 government schools and one school for special children were included in this endeavor.


In addition to the aforementioned USAID funded Project, THAAP has been working in South Punjab since 2007 through financial assistance provided by various donors and as implementing partner of UNESCO. Among its previous projects, notable are the UNESCO-Dutch funded One UN-JP ‘Poverty Alleviation through promotion of Cultural Industries in District Bahawalpur (South Punjab)’ (2012-150 beneficiaries) and ‘Disaster Risk Mitigation (DRM) through alternate income opportunities in Cholistan desert’ (2012-100 direct beneficiaries). In 2011 other significant projects include UNESCO-Norway funded ‘Empowerment of Women through Crafts in Districts Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan’ (March 2010-695 beneficiaries), One UN-JP ‘Poverty Alleviation in District Bahawalpur’ (2011-300 beneficiaries), Women Empowerment in DG Khan (2011-500 beneficiaries) and others. THAAP has reached over 200 village communities in South Punjab through it various interventions since 2007 and has also established home based centers to provide a focal point for sustainable development beyond the project life. Its flagship Centers continue to work on a self-sustaining basis and are visited by many people to study the model.


In terms of achievements THAAP has successfully trained and empowered a large number of artisans through its work in South Punjab. The UNESCO-Norway funded Project ‘Empowerment of Women through Crafts’ Project (2010), was carried out successfully in over 20 villages in various districts with 695 women as direct beneficiaries/participants and about 6000 indirect beneficiaries, with about 100,000 people made aware of the nexus between culture and economic development. A fair price and Cash-For-Work system was set up to demonstrate benefits. New cultural products were developed with ‘artisan and designer’ collaboration through capacity building for skills in innovative contemporary designs and color schemes, time and product quality management, marketing and functional literacy was imparted as the integral component within these workshops. THAAP Craft Centers were established in the three districts to provide the base for sustainable development in the future. The Project culminated with an exhibition titled ‘Connecting People through Crafts’ displaying innovative cultural products, in Islamabad on December 21, 2010. The Prime Minister of Pakistan was requested to inaugurate the exhibition to enhance visibility and create awareness and support in the government for the crafts of South Punjab as a means of alleviating poverty amongst the rural poor. This was viewed as a step towards impacting public policy and is now used in all similar projects.


The outputs of the Project included availability of skilled cadre for up-scaling and a large group of women artisans poised to take the next critical steps towards empowerment. Projects which followed continued with the focus on strengthening artisans particularly women by providing them a strong non-agricultural base for income generation while honing their skills to ensure that quality and innovative cultural products would continue to be developed in a sustainable manner through market connectivity which was a key component of all projects. The incomes of participants increased many folds through these endeavors in some cases estimated as high as 200%. Later Projects resulted in an additional 800 women artisans brought into the loop with corresponding impact on families and communities.


THAAP has a well-honed Strategy for Visibility and Communication including exhibitions, publications and awareness raising events. THAAP most recent exhibitions included two under the USAID Project titled ‘Woven Winds: Chicken Kari from South Punjab’ and ‘Rang-e-Rohi’ (Rohi is the local name of the Cholistan Desert). Booklets accompanied each exhibition. Awareness Raising Events take the form of Cultural Dialogues usually in Cultural Dialogues in Bahawalpur in collaboration with the Islamia University, Bahawlpur, and a NGO Saraki Adabi Majlis (Organization for the Promotion of Saraiki language) and in Multan in collaboration with the Bahauddin Zakariya University.


THAAP has extensive experience of Conservation and Restoration of Heritage premises including World Heritage Sites (WHS). THAAP CEO had co-authored the Master/Management Plan for the WHS Shalamar Gardens Lahore, a UNESCO Government of the Punjab- Getty Foundation joint initiative as well as the restoration of three structures within the gardens. Other works include technical inputs in the Development of the Management Plan for the WHS Lahore Fort, a UNESCO GoPunjab-Norway funded project and Conservation Strategy Plans for important heritage premises such as Katas Raj, Red Fort Muzaffarabad, AJK and Safeguarding of the Traditional Built Heritage of the Leepa Valley in AJK. Additionally the rehabilitation and Conservation of Heritage buildings is a forte of THAAP and the organization has been awarded works such as St. Hilda’s Hostel (b. 1876) Kinnaird College Heritage Buildings (built. 1913) and Cathedral Church, Lahore (built. 1854). Additionally, THAAP has extensive experience of Cultural Mapping and has carried out the Mapping of Cultural Assets of three districts of South Punjab and developed a GIS database through a joint initiative of UNESCO and Government of Norway.







With the Kalash Bumburet valley as its focal point, the project formed mechanisms for the inventorying of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in Pakistan and used it as an entry point to initiate a dialogue with the Kalasha community – the current population of whom is reported to be around 4,000. The UNESCO convention 2003 provided the framework under which the project was implemented and aimed to play role in promoting religious tolerance for safeguarding the cultural practices of a highly marginalized and vulnerable community. During the length of this project, a methodology for ICH inventorying has been established with 15 elements of the Kalasha culture being inventories and a draft dossier for a nomination of a Kalasha element to be placed on the UNESCO Urgent Safeguarding List having been prepared. Furthermore, members of the Provincial and District Government, NGO’s, academia as well as the local Kalasha community have been trained through capacity building workshops, enabling them to inventory ICH elements.  A dialogue was initiated with the Provincial government in Peshawar during a 3 day capacity building workshop which proved to be a vital step in bringing the Government and local community on board for the safeguarding of ICH leading to an element of the Kalasha community to be submitted through the State Party for inscription on the UNESCO Urgent Safeguarding List, thus providing international support for the promotion of Kalasha cultural expressions.


Core Team:-

- Sajida Haider Vandal, Tariq Ahmed Khan, Dr. Imran Munir, Zamir Hussain Abbasi, Ashfaq Toru, Ahsan Masood Anwari, Ashfaq Toru.