Preparatory assistance for the updating of the national inventory of cultural heritage of Cameroon
In order to identify and protect its heritage, Cameroon launched a national inventory of cultural heritage in 2001. The French Embassy in Cameroon passed on the request for technical assistance to the French Ministry of Culture in the Directorate of Architecture and Heritage, who in turn informed UNESCO. Two methodological training missions then followed in 2001, at the request of UNESCO’s Culture Sector (at the time the Division of Tangible Heritage). Thereafter, a commission for coordination and follow-up was created that produced a practical manual for field researchers and data collection which was distributed in the country’s ten provinces. The inventorying was implemented in two pilot regions of the west and northwest where 200 inventory sheets were created. Mainly they include movable objects.
In 2002, a follow-up mission was undertaken within the framework of the France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement to evaluate the implementation status of Cameroon’s national inventory of cultural property, to organize a heritage workshop and to consider the creation of a national museum. The field surveys had started in the two pilot regions of the west and northwest following training of the field researchers and work with the local authorities who themselves sent lists of what they considered to be heritage. The challenges to establish an inventory of cultural heritage are scientific (data collection and processing), administrative and technical (equipment shortage, especially cameras, hardware and software) in nature. Researchers were very competent and had a real interest, which was widely shared amongst the population, demonstrating an awareness of the value a heritage inventory can have in a society.