The official launch of the regional project for capacity building in Risk management and protection systems in Africa
On 21 June 2021, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre (WHC), the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF) and the École du Patrimoine Africain (EPA) brought together Ambassadors, site managers, and African heritage experts for the online launching of the project for the Capacity-building in risk management and protection systems in Africa.
“Most of the African properties do not have a risk management plan or a risk prevention and mitigation system”, said Dr Franck OGOU, Director of the Ecole du Patrimoine Africain, “thus leaving the properties exposed to all kinds of hazards.” he added. The development of this regional project was a response to the urgent need of acting upon the natural hazards threatening and increasingly impacting our shared African heritage. The initiative is also reacting to requests of the World Heritage Committee and to the aspirations of African heritage stakeholders expressed during the Third Cycle of Periodic Reporting Exercise.
During the meeting, participants expressed a special commendation for the support from the Government of China Funds for capacity building and cooperation for World Heritage in Africa: “This project, and the efforts in its development, would not be possible without the support of distinguished partners” said Mechtild Rössler, Director of the WHC.
Recalling the importance of disaster risk management, Mr Souayibou Varissou, Executive Director of the AWHF echoed what all participants stressed: “Risk management is extremely complex”, he said. “It requires proven skills and necessitates plans and resources that are operational and available at all times”.
The one-year project is to be implemented in two phases, beginning with online webinars, and followed by a field visit to the Royal Palaces of Abomey World Heritage site. It will target six pilot sites in six countries , Uganda (Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi); Benin (Royal Palaces of Abomey); Togo (Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba); Côte d’Ivoire (Historic Town of Grand-Bassam), Senegal (Island of Saint-Louis) and The United Republic of Tanzania (Stone Town of Zanzibar), and contribute to developing a disaster risk management plan adapted to the constraints of each of them.
Particular attention of the project will also be the youth, as reiterated by the Director of ICCROM, Dr Webber Ndoro: “We strongly advocate for the participation of youth, as a powerful agent of change and future leaders responsible for protecting and managing rich and diverse African heritage”, he stated. The programme will be developed through a participatory process according to the sites' needs and will include specific themes such as climate change and sustainable development objectives.
The final objective of this initiative is to enable site managers to respond effectively to recent and future disasters, provide pilot sites with an operational disaster risk management plan, and produce a publication on disaster risk management and protection systems in Africa.