UNESCO sets out to strengthen resilience of African archives, libraries and museums to face future crises

The loss of documentary heritage would mean not only the disappearance of items with outstanding aesthetic and technical value, but also the loss of the world’s heritage, history and identity. This is more so for Africa, whose memory institutions have suffered greatly under the COVID-19 pandemic.
Assistant Director-General for UNESCO’s Communication and Information Sector, Mr Tawfik Jelassi, made this point during UNESCO’S Memory of the World Programme’s two-part online event on “Strengthening the resilience of African memory institutions in the face of COVID-19 and beyond”.

The virtual event included a symposium on 7 September and a capacity-building workshop on 8 September.

For its part, the symposium brought together over 260 documentary heritage experts and conservation specialists from Africa and Asia-Pacific, who shared how archives, libraries and museums have coped with the COVID-19 pandemic and proposed ways to better prepare for future crises.

In her keynote speech during the symposium, Alinah Segobye, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Namibia University of Science and Technology, situated the issue of documentary heritage preservation in the context of peacebuilding, reconciliation, and overcoming of intergenerational trauma.

Over 60 archival, library and museum staff from Africa joined the workshop on how to create emergency management plans and salvage wet materials. The workshop participants were selected by their respective countries’ National Commissions for UNESCO.

The two-day event was supported by the National Archives Administration of China (NAAC). Speakers from NAAC also participated in the symposium, highlighting their experiences during the initial stages of the pandemic as well as measures taken since then.


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