The British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund has awarded a shs. 376 million 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 the British Council and the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports partnership to protect threatened heritage in and around the Middle East and Africa.
East African organizations 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 organizations with the skills to protect tangible and intangible cultural heritage, such as restoration techniques, digital documentation and traditional crafts.
Partners in Ethiopia will receive £106,700 to support risk assessments and action planning for 23 ancient rock churches. Plans include the production of conservation manuals and local skills training to protect traditional conservation materials and techniques.
In Kenya, partners will receive £109,744 for photographic history preservation. The money will be used to digitize 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.
Another project in Kenya has also received £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.
Shared environmental vulnerabilities
Coastal heritage is also the focus of the heritage project awarded £60,501 in Tanzania. The funds will the assessment of risks and digitization of 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.
The focus of the project awarded funding (£76,447) in Uganda is flood threats to communities and monuments. The money will go towards 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.
Stephen Stenning, head of arts and society, British Council, said: “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.”