UNESCO’s Heritage Emergency Fund supports firefighting measures for Uganda’s Kasubi Tombs World Heritage site
Following a devastating fire on 5 June 2020 at the World Heritage property of the Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi in Uganda, UNESCO, through the Heritage Emergency Fund (HEF), is providing financial and technical assistance to support the urgent procurement and installation of a firefighting system at the property, as well as training in fire prevention and disaster risk management for the site management authorities and local community members of the Buganda Kingdom living in the compound of the World Heritage property.
The Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi was already the victim of a fire in 2010 that destroyed the main mausoleum building, Muzibu Azaala Mpanga, which housed the royal tombs, and led to the property’s inscription on the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger.
The Tombs of Buganda Kings constitute a property embracing 26.8 hectares of Kasubi hillside within Kampala City. The property is the major spiritual centre for the Baganda where traditional and cultural practices have been preserved. The Kasubi Tombs are the most active religious place in the kingdom, where rituals are frequently performed. Its place as the burial ground for the previous four kings (Kabakas) qualifies it as a religious centre for the royal family, a place where the present Kabaka and his representatives carry out important rituals related to Buganda culture. In this sense, the property represents a place where communication links with the spiritual world are maintained.
The emergency response activity supported by the HEF complements the ongoing UNESCO project, financed by the Government of Japan, for the post-fire reconstruction of the property. The UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa is ensuring coordination among the various initiatives, and is working in close consultation with the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage: Museums and Monuments Department as well as the Ugandan National Commission for UNESCO.