The Rising from the Depths (RftD) network aims to identify the ways in which Marine Cultural Heritage (MCH) can contribute to the sustainable development of coastal communities in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar. Although the coastal and marine heritage of eastern Africa is a valuable cultural and environmental resource, it remains largely unstudied and undervalued and is subject to significant threat from natural and anthropogenic processes of change. This paper outlines the aims of the RftD network and describes the co-creation of a challenge-led research and sustainability programme for the study of MCH in eastern Africa. Through funding 29 challenge-led research projects across these four Global South countries, the network is demonstrating how MCH can directly benefit East African communities and local economies through building identity and place-making, stimulating resource-centred alternative sources of income and livelihoods, and enhancing the value and impact of overseas aid in the marine sector. Overall, Rising from the Depths aims to illustrate that an integrated consideration of cultural heritage, rather than being a barrier to development, should be positioned as a central facet of the transformative development process if that development is to be ethical, inclusive and sustainable.
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