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Cultural Protection Fund to address climate change threat to cultural heritage in East Africa

ICCROM - Inside the Shimoni slave caves © National Museums Kenya

  • International cultural protection partners to collaborate across East Africa
  • Projects tackle the threat to cultural heritage in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda from climate change
  • Advancing knowledge and sharing skills within the global heritage community

The British Council is pleased to announce the Cultural Protection Fund has awarded funding to five global heritage projects, which will use technology, skills development and community engagement to respond to the risk of climate change to heritage in East Africa.

Selected as part of the Cultural Protection Fund’s Disaster and Climate Change Mitigation round, the projects will address the threat to valuable cultural heritage in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda by increasing capacity and resilience through risk planning, training programmes and digital innovation. The Fund continues a partnership between British Council and UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport partnership to protect threatened heritage in and around the Middle East and Africa.

East African organisations and experts will partner with counterparts in the UK and Italy to support the exchange of knowledge and shared solidarity within the global heritage community. The partnerships aim to advance regional cultural protection by further engaging communities and empowering local organisations with the skills to protect tangible and intangible cultural heritage, such as restoration techniques, digital documentation and traditional crafts.

The five projects awarded funding are:            

Ancient rock churches, Ethiopia

  • £106,700 to support risk assessments and action planning for 23 ancient rock churches. Plans include production of conservation manuals and local skills training to protect traditional conservation materials and techniques.
  • Partners: Federal Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, (Ethiopia), Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), Mekelle University Institute of Paleoenvironment & Heritage Conservation (Ethiopia), Womersley’s (UK). 

Photographic history preservation, Kenya

  • £109,744 to digitise and protect the physical collection of late 19th Century paper and photographic collections at the McMillan Memorial Library chronicling key Kenyan historical events, which is at risk from climate-related heat and moisture.
  • Partners: Book Bunk Trust (Kenya), African Digital Heritage Foundation (Kenya), Built Environment Surveyors & Infrastructure Consultancy (BESIC) Group (Kenya).

Coastal heritage, Kenya

  • £109,430 to develop disaster risk management strategies for preserving Kenyan coastal heritage sites at risk due to rising sea levels, coastal erosion, salt evaporation and storms. Plans include the development of site staff to manage risks, implement interventions and host community training programmes to support local engagement.
  • Partners: ICCROM (Italy), National Museums Kenya (Kenya).

Coastal heritage, Tanzania  

  • £60,501 to assess risks and digitise the UNESCO World Heritage coastal sites of Kilwa Kisiwani and Bagamoyo, Tanzania. Mitigating against future rising sea levels will run alongside documenting risk to intangible heritage of coastal communities, such as oral traditions and craft skills.
  • Partners: University of Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania), St. Andrew’s University (UK).

Flood threats to communities and monuments, Uganda

  • £76,447 for protection against the impact of melting snow and flooding rivers on Uganda’s Bakonzo and Alur communities due to global warming. Interventions to protect national monument Wang Lei will support knowledge sharing with Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire, UK. Additional recording of tangible and intangible cultural heritage will run alongside community training and awareness initiatives.
  • Partners: International National Trusts Organisation (UK), Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (Uganda).

Stephen Stenning, Head of Arts & Society, British Council, says:

‘The Disaster and Climate Change Mitigation pilot to support cultural heritage at risk from climate change is an urgent area of focus for the global heritage community. With continued support from DCMS, this alert to our shared environmental vulnerabilities has resulted in some extraordinary international partnership projects. Sharing concerns and solutions around the impact of climate change, from North Yorkshire in the UK to the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda, is a great example of the mutually beneficial collaborations at the heart of the Cultural Protection Fund.’

 

The Disaster and Climate Change Mitigation Fund was announced in 2019, as part of an additional funding round of the Cultural Protection Fund.

 

Established in 2016, the original £30 million Cultural Protection Fund, is a partnership between the British Council and the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to protect heritage at risk in countries in and around the Middle East and North Africa.

 

 

ENDS

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