Mutually Beneficial: Heritage Conservation and Community Development in Ethiopia
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Type of Work158 p.
ProgramMA in Historic Preservation
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cultural heritage tourism
living cultural World Heritage site
public policy advocacy
rock-hewn churches at Lalibela
UNESCO World Heritage Programme
United Nations Millenium Development Goals
Historic preservation -- Theses
World Heritage areas -- Ethiopia -- Case studies
Lalibela (Ethiopia) -- Buildings, structures, etc. -- Preservation
Hārer (Ethiopia) -- Buildings, structuers, etc. -- Preservation
An analysis of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre’s changing perception of the community’s role in the conservation of World Heritage informs a discussion of the evolution of heritage conservation in Ethiopia. Case studies on two of Ethiopia’s living cultural World Heritage sites, the Rock-hewn Churches at Lalibela and Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historical Town, illustrate how the site and local tradition bearers are of mutual benefit to each other in terms of the conservation of Outstanding Universal Value and the transmission of local cultural values to present and future generations. By comparing heritage conservation activities at the two properties, the treatise discusses the shift in the approach to decision making about conservation strategies from the conventional and top-down to the values-led and grass roots and identifies the downstream effects of program implementation at each site and development in the town on the historical built environment and the surrounding community associated with it. With tourism, particularly cultural heritage tourism, recognized as a significant factor in national economic growth, the Ethiopian government is increasingly considering the country’s World Heritage sites as economic assets as well as cultural resources. This changing appreciation is particularly relevant in the context of its effort to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of poverty alleviation. Since the conception of the ‘Historic Route’ over fifty years ago to promote international tourism in Ethiopia, the national leadership has valued the use of heritage sites to raise the country’s international standing as well as bring in foreign exchange. Ethiopia’s experience following the listing of its first World Heritage sites in 1978 provides lessons for its own consideration as well as that of other nations as they proceed with the development of additional national heritage sites as cultural tourist destinations. A key finding is the importance of expanding heritage conservation programs beyond technical assistance with site management and preservation to include public policy advocacy to promote and defend the interests of the World Heritage sites and the communities with which they are associated.