Special support programme for UNESCO sites in Africa
Initiated by the Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut, an International Relief Fund was set up in summer 2020 to provide rapid support to cultural and educational organisations during the Covid-19 pandemic. With its special support programme #SOSAfricanHeritage, the German Commission for UNESCO is an active member of the Relief Fund consortium. The following overview introcudes the 22 projects funded by the German Commission for UNESCO in 2020.
African countries are project locations
Many UNESCO designated sites in African countries suffer from severe impairments caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Numerous sites had to close for visitors and are in turn facing major losses of income. Due to massive financial losses, some sites no longer had the means to pay their staff in charge of protecting and managing the biosphere reserves. Consequently, in the absence of patrols, poaching and looting have therefore increased significantly since the beginning of the pandemic.
In order to help UNESCO designated sites to overcome existing impairments caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the German Commission for UNESCO set up a special support programme: #SOSAfricanHeritage. The aim of #SOSAfricanHeritage is to contribute to preserving independent and sustainable organisational structures at African World Heritage sites and Biosphere Reserves as well as to secure spaces dedicated to education for global citizenship, sustainability, and cultural diversity.
Projects funded in 2020
On September 1, 2020, an international jury of experts selected 22 projects from 19 African countries for funding. Until December 2020 each project received up to 25,000 euros from the German Commission for UNESCO.
The selected activities included innovative digitisation and educational measures, methods to preserve the sites' endangered infrastructures, as well as approaches to create alternative touristic access to UNESCO World Heritage sites or UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. Projects furthermore promoted new and sustainable income streams, thus helping to cushion the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Many of the selected projects were dedicated to protecting World Heritage sites and Biosphere Reserves from poaching and looting.
Find out more about the individual projects in the project-profiles:
The International Relief Fund
Initiated by the Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut, an International Relief Fund was set up in summer 2020 to provide rapid support to cultural and educational organisations during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Foreign Office provides the basic funding of three million euros. Additional funding is made available by the Goethe-Institute, the S. Fischer Foundation, and the Robert Bosch Foundation. The overall coordination is directed by the Goethe-Institute.
Numerous other cultural organizations and private foundations, including the DAAD's Berlin artist program, the Mercator Foundation, and the Siemens Foundation, provide additional support funds or participate with their own programs. With its special support programme #SOSAfricanHeritage, the German Commission for UNESCO is part of the Relief Fund consortium.