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 abroad during the Covid-19 pandemic. With its special support programme #SOSAfricanHeritage, the German Commission for UNESCO was an active member of the Relief Fund consortium.
Funded projects in total
African countries ar project locations
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions, many African UNESCO sites were not accessible to visitors at all or only to a limited extent. This led to a great loss of income with serious consequences: for example, poaching and overexploitation of natural resources had increased sharply since the beginning of the pandemic, as many people had lost their livelihoods and, due to the financial shortfalls, the staff to protect the sites could no longer be paid in some cases.
The aim of the #SOSAfricanHeritage special programme was therefore to provide rapid and targeted support to UNESCO sites on the African continent.
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. In 2021, another 12 projects in 12 different African countries were selected for funding as part of the second edition of the programme. From August to November, these projects received support of up to 20,000 euros each. One project was funded by the Canadian National Commission for UNESCO.
The activities supported included, among others, digitisation and education measures, approaches to maintain or restore infrastructure, and protective measures against poaching and looting. In addition, projects were supported that opened up new and sustainable income opportunities and thus helped to cushion the economic downturn caused by the pandemic in the long term. The funded projects contributed to the preservation of independent and sustainable organisational structures at the sites, strengthened the involvement and participation of the local population and secured spaces dedicated to the promotion of global citizenship education, sustainability and cultural diversity.
Find out more about the diverse project contents, their implementation and impact 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.
Pojects funded in 2021
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Magaliesberg
Youth-led Community Trail in South Africa
With the community trail developed and established by unemployed youths, the Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve created participatory and encouraging environmental education opportunities as well as sustainable sources of income.
UNESCO World Heritage Sacred Kaya Forests of the Mijikenda
Multi-Generational Project to Renovate Sacred Sites in Kenya
The organisation “National Museums of Kenya” renovated the ceremonial sites of the Kaya Kauma. This involved young and old members of the community alike to strengthen the sense of community responsibility for the World Heritage.
UNESCO World Heritage Mozambique Island
Restoration and Awareness in Mozambique
The Mozambique Island Conservation Office restored ten traditional houses on Mozambique Island and trained local craftsmen in the sustainable use of natural building materials. Various educational activities accompanied the renovation in order to raise awareness among the local communities for the protection of the unique architecture.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Tsimanampesotse
United in the Fight against Poaching in Madagascar
To stop the poaching of the critically endangered radiated tortoise, Madagascar National Parks used #SOSAfricanHeritage funds to work with local communities, for monitoring and patrols.
UNESCO World Heritage Kunta Kinteh Island and Senegambian Stone Circles
World Heritage Education in The Gambia
The Gambian Centre for Arts and Culture empowered students at six schools with targeted educational activities that highlight the universal value of the sites.
UNESCO World Heritage Konso Cultural Landscape
Sustainable Rehabilitation and Tourism Promotion in Ethiopia
With the rehabilitation of the traditional dry-stone terraces and the planting of trees as well as the resumption of traditional cultural practices, the Konso Cultural Landscape will be sustainably protected. At the same time, income opportunities were created for the local population and training in COVID-19 prevention helps to revive tourism.
UNESCO World Heritage Ancient Ferrous Metallurgy Sites of Burkina Faso
Training for a Better Protection of the Sites in Burkina Faso
In order to improve the management of Burkina Faso's Ancient Ferrous Metallurgy Sites and thus promote their conservation, training was provided to the Sites' local management committees.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Lake Bosomtwe
Environmental Education and Sustainable Agriculture in Ghana
The Water Resources Commission promoted the sustainable conservation of the Biosphere Reserve in Ghana with educational programmes in schools, trainings for farmers and afforestation measures. In addition, the orally transmitted stories of the Ashanti people living at Lake Bosomtwe were collected and documented.
UNESCO World Heritage Ennedi Massif
Promoting Education, Employment Opportunities and Information in Chad
The World Heritage Directorate of the Ennedi Massif and the Chadian UNESCO National Commission supported the local communities and the management of the site with a variety of measures. In addition, new signposts, information campaigns and improved waste management contribute to a better conservation of the site.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Mount Mulanje
Economic Empowerment of Disadvantaged Women in Malawi
The Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust supported marginalised women to jointly grow and sell agricultural products. This enables the women to earn a living without relying on the natural resources of the Biosphere Reserve.
UNESCO World Heritage Old Towns of Djenné
Raising Awareness to Combat Looting of Cultural Assets in Mali
The Mission Culturelle de Djenné protected the World Heritage Site from further looting through information campaigns and awareness-raising activities.
UNESCO World Heritage Archaeological Sites of the Island of Meroe
Strengthening of the Local Economy in Sudan
The National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums in Sudan supported local merchants by building sales stands and providing training to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Projects funded in 2020
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Mono
Digitisation for Nature Conservation in Benin and Togo
Through targeted digitization and education measures for young people, the non-governmental organization Eco-Benin succeeded in alleviating the anthropogenic pressure on the Mono Biosphere Reserve as part of the #SOSAfricanHeritage programme.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Mare aux Hippopotames
Fight against Poaching and Covid-19 in Burkina Faso
As part of the #SOSAfricanHeritage programme, the Burkinabe MAB National Committee worked to improve the management of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Mare aux Hippopotames. The focus was on the fight against poaching, the revitalization of tourism and new environmental education opportunities for the local population.
UNESCO World Heritage Lakes of Ounianga
Reforesting Oases and Gaining Land in Chad
The funds of the #SOSAfricanHeritage programme enabled the site management to maintain income-generating activities for the local population as well as conservation measures to preserve the World Heritage site and its values.
UNESCO World Heritage Taï National Park
Zoonoses in Times of Pandemics in Côte d'Ivoire
Through targeted information events, improved conservation measures and a new database, the local population of the Taï National Park World Heritage site was sensitised to the links between environmental degradation and human health.
UNESCO World Heritage Kahuzi-Biega National Park
Digital Access to Biological Diversity in the Democratic Republic of Congo
To increase the visibility of the highly endangered Kahuzi-Biega National Park, the NGO KIVU TERRA NOVA developed the app "MyPNKB" with the help of funding from the German Commission for UNESCO. The app, which is available worldwide, makes it possible for tourists to explore the extraordinary biological wealth of the park even in times of a pandemic.
UNESCO World Heritage Ecosystem and Cultural Landscape of Lopé-Okanda
Resilience through Intangible Cultural Heritage
With information campaigns and an inventory of the intangible cultural heritage on site, the site management strengthened the resilience of the National Park with funds from the German Commission for UNESCO.
UNESCO World Heritage Simien National Park
Jobs against COVID-19 in Ethiopia
As part of a cash-for-work programme, the African Wildlife Foundation used the #SOSAfricanHeritage funds to implement urgently needed maintenance measures on tourist trekking routes and roads in the UNESCO World Heritage Simien National Park. Thereby, sources of income were created for the local population.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Lubombo
A New Space for Dialogue and Nature Conservation in Eswatini
With funding from the German Commission for UNESCO, Eswatini’s National Commission for UNESCO implemented a project with multiple impacts: energy-saving stoves, information campaigns, fences and new spaces for more inclusive exchange benefit the local population, not only conservation.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Magaliesberg
Against Poaching, Forest Fires and Plant Theft in South Africa
The management of the Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve strengthened its guard patrols against poaching, plant theft and forest fires through #SOSAfricanHeritage and collected data for improved protection and law enforcement.
UNESCO World Heritage Vallée de Mai
Resilience through Knowledge and Technology in Seychelles
At the Vallée de Mai World Heritage Site, the Seychelles Islands Foundation invested #SOSAfricanHeritage project funds in COVID-19 protective material and technical equipment. This allowed the site to remain open and maintain a minimum level of tourism and conservation activities.
UNESCO World Heritage Saloum Delta
Creating Alternative Sources of Income in Senegal
With funding from the #SOSAfricanHeritage special support programme, the national park management in the Saloum Delta World Heritage Site strengthened both nature conservation and health care, and created alternative sources of income.
UNESCO World Heritage Kilimanjaro National Park
Tree Nurseries for Biodiversity in Tanzania
To protect biodiversity, Kilimanjaro National Park used #SOSAfricanHeritage funds to remove invasive species from the lower mountain forest of the park and to reforest the area with native species.
UNESCO World Heritage Twyfelfontein ǀUi-ǁAis and Namib Sand Sea
Digitising World Heritage in Namibia
To make the two Namibian World Heritage Sites accessible to tourism even during the pandemic, Namibia's National Heritage Council digitally visualized them with funding from the #SOSAfricanHeritage programme. The resulting footage is intended to raise awareness of the sites among the population and attract more guests.
UNESCO World Heritage Mozambique Island
Management and Monitoring with the Help of Social Media in Mozambique
For effective World Heritage management even in times of “physical distancing”, the Mozambique Island Conservation Office trained the local population in the use of digital platforms and social media as part of the #SOSAfricanHeritage project. This enabled them to build a digital communication network for the conservation of the World Heritage Site.
UNESCO World Heritage Tsingy de Bemaraha
Better Protection through Local Committees in Madagascar
Through collaborative fire suppression campaigns and the involvement of local stakeholders, communities and authorities in the site management, Madagascar National Parks increased the resilience of the Tsingy de Bemaraha UNESCO World Heritage Site.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Belo-sur-Mer Kirindy-Mite
Young Volunteers against Forest Fires in Madagascar
With the commitment of youth volunteers, Madagascar National Parks was able to take action against forest fires in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Belo-sur-mer – Kirindy-Mite with funds from the special support programme #SOSAfricanHeritage.
UNESCO World Heritage Old Towns of Djenné
Renovation Work on Clay Mosque in Mali
Urgent repair measures at the Great Mosque of Djenné could finally be carried out by the Mission Culturelle de Djenné through the special support programme #SOSAfricanHeritage. Now, the cultural heritage is restored to a good condition and traditional knowledge about the building techniques has been passed on.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Mount Kenya
Sustainable Forest Management in Kenya
Meru Forest used the funding from the German Commission for UNESCO to rehabilitate the Upper Imenti Forest ecosystem through tree nurseries and reforestation. New beehives and stoves strengthen the sustainable livelihood of community members.
UNESCO World Heritage Senegambian Stone Circles
Promotion of Women and Young People in Gambia
Empowering women and the youth was at the heart of the #SOSAfricanHeritage project of the Arts and Culture Centre in Gambia. Through handicraft and history lessons, their entrepreneurial skills and perspectives in the World Heritage Site were improved.
UNESCO World Heritage Mont Nimba
Mapping for Animal Welfare in Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire
In the Guinean UNESCO World Heritage Site Mont Nimba, the Reserve Office used the #SOSAfricanHeritage funds for anti-poaching patrols, information campaigns, and mapping of ape habitats.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Massif du Ziama
Nature Conservation through Participation in Guinea
In the Ziama Massif Biosphere Reserve in Guinea, the MAB National Committee invested the #SOSAfricanHeritage funds in participatory awareness campaigns for more conservation and hygiene measures. Now, the population is better informed about the consequences of poaching, deforestation and COVID-19.
UNESCO World Heritage Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests
Multi-Generation Dialogue for Sustainability in Kenya
With the #SOSAfricanHeritage project, the organisation "National Museums of Kenya" organised meetings between stakeholders of different age groups to involve them in the governance and sustainable management of the Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests. The exchange of knowledge improved the community spirit and the appreciation of the cultural heritage.