Protection and Preservation of Cultural Heritage in the event of crisis and disaster in Cameroon

A joint team from the Ministry of Arts and Culture of Cameroon and from the UNESCO Regional Office in Central Africa carried out an emergency assessment during the month of February in Goulfey, Mokolo and Yagoua (Far North region – Cameroon) in view of urgent interventions at cultural heritage sites, museums and collections at risk. This field assessment falls within the pilot project “Emergency assessment and urgent interventions at cultural heritage sites, museums and collections at risk in the North-West, South-West and Far North regions of Cameroon”, funded by the UNESCO’s Heritage Emergency Fund.

The recent natural disasters as well as the crisis and humanitarian needs in Cameroon have raised concerns about community traditional systems, built heritage and collections. Most often represented by community museums, they are at serious risk and often very little documented and secured.

Piloting urgent activities in the Far North, North-West and South-West regions, the proposed activity is meant as rapid intervention tool with a view to anticipate and complement national efforts, by seeking at engaging communities in enhancing the protection and preservation of cultural heritage. Through documenting and monitoring the conditions of cultural property at major risk, as well as securing community museums and preparing local community in mitigating damages. As one sought impact, while empowering professionals in first aid and prevention, the project is designed with a view to directly contribute to prepare local communities to adopt/operationalize security plans. The joint team identified needs on the most critical interventions required to strengthen the security at the site, with a view to avoid loss of Cultural Heritage. The team also led some working meetings with administrative, community and traditional leaders and some humanitarian actors, notably the UN OCHA sub-office in Maroua, in order to identify adequate proposals, coordinate action and unite for heritage.

The Heritage Emergency Fund is a multi-donor and non-earmarked funding mechanism established by UNESCO in 2015, to enable the Organization to respond quickly and effectively to crises resulting from armed conflicts and disasters caused by natural and human-made hazards all over the world. UNESCO works to achieve this objective by strengthening the ability of Member States to prevent, mitigate and recover the loss of cultural heritage and diversity in emergencies and by advocating for the incorporation of the protection of culture into humanitarian action, security strategies and peace-building processes, including by harnessing the potential of culture to strengthen resilience and support recovery.

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