Sunday, May 01, 2005

African Heritage in Danger

World Heritage Newsletter

From the editorial by Francesco Bandarin,

"Several recent events point to the increasing concern on the part of UNESCO and the World Heritage Centre for the conservation of heritage on the African continent. An important African Experts’ Meeting was held in Cape Town in March to define an African position for the forthcoming 29th session of the World Heritage Committee to be held in Durban, South Africa in July. This paper will be included in the working reports of the African Cultural Ministers’ meeting in May, as well as the summit of the African Union set for January 2006.

"In parallel to this gathering, a workshop was held to discuss the establishment of an African World Heritage Fund. The proposed Fund, recommended by the Africa Periodic Report of 2002, would work towards the mobilization of governments, bi- and multilateral donors, non-governmental organizations and the corporate sector to address the challenges faced by African countries in identifying, protecting and managing World Heritage properties.

"The figures speak for themselves. To date, 41 of the 47 sub-Saharan African countries have signed the World Heritage Convention. Although this represents 22 percent of the total number of States Parties to the Convention, the 63 African sites inscribed on the World Heritage List make up only 8 percent of the List. Added to this, a disproportionate number of African sites (14) are among the 35 inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

"Africa’s heritage is disappearing even before it can be inscribed on the World Heritage List, and once it is inscribed, it is often vulnerable to recurring natural disaster. The lack of an adequate drainage system in the city of Timbuktu, for example, still remains a cause for concern today, three years after heavy rains and flooding brought serious damage to the World Heritage site."

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