In Celebration of African World Heritage Day on 5 May 2021, and in the framework of the African Union Year 2021 for “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”, UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa in partnership with UNESCO National Commissions in the region and the African World Heritage Fund are launching an open competition for youth, aged 18 to 35 years, in all 13 countries covered by the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa (Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda) to develop a project proposal for raising awareness and engagement of youth in the protection and promotion of African World Heritage. The deadline for applications is 31 May 2021.

Proposals may focus on raising awareness and/or engagement among youth for one World Heritage site in Africa, all World Heritage sites in a specific country or the Eastern Africa region, or may also focus on the entire Africa region. Proposals may also focus on Tentative List sites or the UNESCO 1972 World Heritage Convention.

All proposals must include a detailed budget breakdown indicating the estimated costs for all activities in USD for a total amount up to 5000 USD. The proposed activity(-ies) must be feasible to carry-out between 1 July and 15 November 2021.  All proposed activities must respect national and World Health Organization (WHO) health guidelines and prevention measures for the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as national security and legal guidelines. Moreover, all proposals must respect human rights and promote respect for cultural diversity.

In November 2015, the 38th session of the General Conference of UNESCO declared Africa World Heritage Day (5 May) as an opportunity for people around the world, particularly Africans, to celebrate the continent’s unique cultural and natural heritage. While Africa is underrepresented on the UNESCO World Heritage List (African heritage accounts for approximately 8.5% of all properties inscribed globally and Eastern Africa has 34 natural and cultural sites inscribed), these properties are overrepresented on the List of World Heritage in Danger (30%). In the face of contemporary threats such as climate change, uncontrolled exploitation, poaching, civil strife and instability, many African World Heritage sites are in danger of losing their outstanding universal value. The need to protect and preserve this irreplaceable heritage for the enjoyment of future generations is therefore more urgent than ever.

Working hand-in-hand, UNESCO and the African World Heritage Fund are committed to lead international efforts to harness the immense potential of Africa’s cultural and natural heritage as a force for poverty reduction and social cohesion, as well as a driving force for sustainable development and innovation. Through this International Day, UNESCO and the African World Heritage Fund aim to raise global awareness of African heritage, particularly among youth, and to mobilize increased cooperation for the preservation of African heritage at the local, regional and global levels, especially to promote resilience from COVID-19 pandemic.

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