In 1998, AFRICA 2009 was introduced at a regional meeting of African cultural
heritage professionals held in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. This programme
is a joint effort of Africa cultural heritage organizations, ICCROM, the
UNESCO World Heritage Centre, and CRATerre-EAG. It is rooted in the notion
that the problems facing conservation in Africa must be addressed not only
through technical solutions, but also through better taking into account
the relationship between the immovable heritage and its relevant communities
and overall environment.
In 1996, a preliminary needs assessment was carried out to determine the
present state of conservation of immovable cultural heritage in Africa. The
survey was distributed to 44 countries in the region, and had a response
rate of over 60%. Based on this survey, a Training Strategy for Immovable
Cultural Heritage in Africa South of the Sahara was prepared. The results
of the survey and discussions carried out during the programme development
phase, led to the identification of a number of problems regarding the conservation
and management of immovable cultural heritage in Sub-Saharan Africa. These
problems have been verified and expanded on during the past three years during
Directors Seminars, regional courses and other programme venues. The following
list presents some of the problems facing professionals in the region.
Conservation policies: where they exist, conservation policies
are not well integrated into a framework for sustainable development.
Legislation: legislation aimed at protecting immovable cultural
heritage is often outdated and ineffective.
Institutional structure: institutional structures for conservation
need a stronger degree of stability to be able to incorporate conservation
into the development process.
Human resources: there are insufficient human resources and capacity (professionals,
support staff, skilled craftsmen) to carrying out management, conservation,
and maintenance using traditional methods and materials.
Planning and management: immovable cultural heritage continues
to undergo a process of degradation due to a lack of conservation planning
Participatory mechanisms: local communities, and especially
youth, are not involved in the conservation planning and management process.
Awareness: politicians, decision makers, and local communities
are not aware of the role that conservation can play within rapidly changing
economic, social, and environmental situations.
Economic development and conflicts: there is a lack of effective
strategies for economic development (including tourism) that take into
account conservation needs within the context of benefit to local communities.
Financial and infrastructure resources: there are insufficient
resources for maintaining an acceptable level of conservation.
Documentation and inventory: national inventories of immovable
cultural heritage are incomplete or non-existent.
Networking: professionals in the region face problems sharing
information, specialized knowledge, and best practices.