UNESCO World Heritage Sites Twyfelfontein ǀUi-ǁAis and Namib Sand Sea: Digitising World Heritage
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.
The aim of #SOSAfricanHeritage is to contribute to preserving independent and sustainable organisational structures at African World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves with the participation of civil society as well as to secure spaces dedicated to education for global citizenship, sustainability and cultural diversity.
The World Heritage site Twyfelfontein ǀUi-ǁAis is home to one of the largest concentrations of rock engravings in Africa. The cultural site houses neolithic drawings of animals and human and animal footprints. Over a period of at least 2000 years, it documents in a unique and comprehensive way various ritual practices of the hunter-gatherer communities of southern Africa. Like no other site, it also illustrates the links between the ritual and economic practices of hunter-gatherers.
The natural site Namib Sand Desert is the only coastal desert in the world. With an area of over three million hectares and a buffer zone of 899,500ha, the area consists of two dune systems: An old, semi-consolidated one, which is overlaid by a younger, active one. Fog is the main source of water in the area, creating a unique environment in which endemic invertebrates, reptiles, and mammals adapt to an ever-changing variety of microhabitats and ecological niches.
Restrictions due to the pandemic
Since the beginning of the pandemic and the subsequent border closures worldwide, the negative effects in Namibia have been felt above all in the tourism industry. While few local tourists visit the two World Heritage Sites, the majority of visitors come from abroad. The decreasing number of visitors due to the closure of the borders is currently reflected in lower revenues. The revenues would normally have been invested in the conservation and management of the sites.
Remedy through virtual access
In order to maintain access to the exceptional cultural and natural heritage sites, the National Heritage Council of Namibia used project funds from the German Commission for UNESCO to improve the digital communication of the two World Heritage Sites. Together with the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), it produced image and video material about the two World Heritage sites Twyfelfontein or /Ui-//aes and Namib Sand Sea. Documentary films, individual clips and photographs are intended to reach as many people as possible in order to increase the public's understanding and awareness of the sites and to create a desire to preserve them for present and future generations - and to visit them in the future. It is hoped that this will encourage more national and international travellers to take an interest in the World Heritage Sites. The video footage will also be used during the African World Heritage Day celebrations, which are held annually on May 5.
On the initiative of 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 is part of the Relief Fund consortium.
- Site: Twyfelfontein ǀUi-ǁAis
- Country: Namibia
- Type of Site: UNESCO World Heritage (cultural heritage)
- Year of inscription: 2007
- Site: Namib Sand Sea
- Country: Namibia
- Type of Site: UNESCO World Heritage (natural heritage)
- Year of inscription: 2013