© CPF funded project led by Book Bunk Trust

In September 2020 the Cultural Protection Fund awarded just over £400k to 5 projects protecting valuable cultural heritage against climate change in East Africa.

These projects address the threat to valuable cultural heritage in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda by increasing capacity and resilience through preparedness measures such as physical protection, digital documentation, training and community engagement..

From protecting important cultural sites and the intangible heritage of the Alur and Bakonzo communities in Uganda, to digitising and improving storage for the photographic and newspaper collections housed at the McMillan Memorial Library in Nairobi, Kenya, the 5 pilot projects have collectively protected several heritage items and sites and made an important contribution to the Cultural Protection Fund’s understanding of heritage at risk due to climate change. 

Preserving endangered photograph and newspaper collections at McMillian Memorial Library

The Book Bunk Trust has digitised over 31,549 newspapers, photographs and other items in the Macmillan Library in Nairobi, and has improved the storage conditions for these items, helping to prevent further degradation of this unique library collection.

They have trained 21 people in how to preserve, protect and digitise archives, created 25 paid internships and 5 casual employment roles and engaged over 150,000 viewers with their online activities.

The project’s YouTube video on ‘How to protect personal archives from climate change’ has had over 62k views. Watch here

Citizen Science Tanzania: A strategy to monitor and mitigate the impacts of climate change on coastal heritage

St Andrew’s University, in partnership with the University of Dar Es Salaam has carried out important assessment and digitisation of the Kilwa Kisawini and Bagamoyo coastal heritage sites in Tanzania. The project also developed a database and an app, that local professionals and communities can use to record the tangible and intangible heritage of the local area and monitor climate effects. The app has generated more than 150 new database entries including records of sites, buildings, objects, stories and landscapes. Valuable training in heritage collection and documentation has been delivered to professionals, ministry staff and local community volunteers to continue this important work. .

The project produced a music video with young musicians and popular Tanzanian artist, Claudia Lubao, to increase awareness of the climate change related threats to heritage, which has had over 3k views. Watch here

Melting Snow and Rivers in Flood

In Uganda, the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) worked in partnership with the Cross-cultural Foundation of Uganda to explore and protect the heritage sites, age-old traditions and beliefs of the Alur and Bakonzo communities in Uganda.

The project has carried out physical restoration to prevent further flood damage to sites and has documented culturally significant tangible heritage such as sacred sites and hot springs, as well as the intangible heritage of the local communities. Extensive training on the documentation of cultural heritage has been delivered to local professionals alongside awareness raising activities on the risks posed by climate change to traditional ways of life. An important exchange between the UK heritage site of Fountains Abbey and the Wang Lei site in Uganda took place; sharing best practice on how to handle flooding; a very real and global threat to cultural heritage.

Tigray Rock Hewn Churches project: developing tourist guide books, maps and itinerary for Gheralta, Aksum and Mekelle historical sites of Tigray

The Federal Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH), in partnership with Mekelle University in Ethiopia, created an inventory of the sacred rock hewn churches of Tigray, as well as touristic guides for the area. Although they were unable to complete the physical assessment and repair of the churches due to the conflict, the project team undertook desk-based work documenting 28 churches and their cultural artefacts.

Climate Action and Disaster Risk Management Coastal Cultural Heritage of Kenya

ICCROM, in partnership with National Museums Kenya, addressed the threats arising from climate change to some of the most vulnerable heritage sites on the coast of Kenya, through risk assessment, training, conservation and advocacy. The four heritage sites: Jumba la Mtwana National Monument, Siyu Fort on Lamu Island, Shimoni Slave Caves & Cultural Landscape and Kongo Mosque Heritage site, are at the centre of traditional communities and represent an important part of their cultural heritage.

The project has documented approximately 50 objects across the heritage sites and carried out important mitigation work at the Siyu fort to protect against the immediate threat of sea erosion. Risk management plans were developed for all 4 sites and 125 local site managers, caretakers and community members were trained in climate change and disaster risk management. The project has been instrumental in raising awareness and building capacity to protect Kenya’s valuable and threatened cultural heritage.

“This pilot round has enabled the Cultural Protection Fund to open opportunities in new geographies and address different threats to valuable cultural heritage. Despite an exceptionally challenging year, these projects remained committed to delivering excellent work which will help us to shape how we continue to protect cultural heritage against global threats such as climate change.” Stephanie Grant, Senior Programme Manager Cultural Protection Fund