Protecting heritage at the intersection of conflicts, disasters and epidemics: Stories of Change in MENAP
Exposed to intersecting conflicts, climate change-induced disasters and health crises, the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan – collectively referred to as the MENAP region – is home to rich and diverse heritage.
Over the past two and a half years, ICCROM’s First Aid and Resilience for Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis (FAR) Programme has trained a readily deployable team of 20 cultural first aiders (including four mentors) from the MENAP region in the framework of the Alliance for Cultural First Aid, Peace and Resilience project. Generously supported by the ALIPH Foundation, this cascading capacity development project was implemented in partnership with the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation (EHRF) and the Zurich-based Centre for Security Studies (CSS).
These cultural first aiders are now equipped to respond during complex emergencies. In tandem with humanitarian relief and recovery, they are trained to assess, document, secure and stabilize damaged heritage.
This cohort carried out field projects at 16 heritage places, seven of which are World Heritage Sites. They provided first aid to endangered heritage and improved the sites’ emergency preparedness. The field projects helped train another group of 262 Cultural First Aiders and proactively involved 624 residents in managing the risks to their local heritage.
While the long-term impacts of the training and the afterlives of these projects are yet to emerge, the community of practice built is already changing attitudes and behaviours, making heritage an instrument for sustaining peace and resilience in the region.
These inspiring stories of change from eight countries are now available in a free-to-download publication, A Story of Change 3: Success Stories from the Alliance for Cultural First Aid, Peace and Resilience Project.