Decision of the Bureau: 18.COM 1.BUR 3.1

The Bureau,

  1. Recalling Article 23 of the Convention as well as Chapter I.4 of the Operational Directives relating to the eligibility and criteria of International Assistance requests,
  2. Having examined document LHE/23/18.COM 1.BUR/3 as well as International Assistance request no. 02045 submitted by Ethiopia,
  3. Takes note that Ethiopia has requested International Assistance for the project entitled Emergency response to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of Lalibela World Heritage property and the surrounding area endangered by conflict:

To be implemented by the Ethiopian Heritage Authority, in collaboration with the Association of St. Lalibela and Surrounding Heritage Conservation and Protection, this three-year project aims to contribute to the revival of the traditional church schools in Lalibela and the surrounding areas. These church schools, situated within the World Heritage property of the ‘Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela’, have been temporarily closed due to ongoing conflicts in northern Ethiopia and the COVID-19 pandemic. The project will provide technical and financial support to the church schools, as well as to civil society and government institutions. It will also facilitate trainings and other activities aimed at safeguarding living heritage. The project is expected to contribute to the sustainability of the church schools, which are vital for the survival of the religious practices and the conservation of the World Heritage property. The project is furthermore expected to have a broader impact within and beyond Lalibela through experience-sharing and training-of-trainers programmes, which will revitalize the traditional management system for safeguarding living heritage enacted by practitioners and church communities. Furthermore, this project reflects an integrated approach seeking a synergy between the 1972 Convention and 2003 Convention for the conservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage.

  1. Further takes note that this assistance aims to support a project implemented at the national level, in accordance with Article 20 (c) of the Convention, and that it takes the form of the provision of a grant, pursuant to Article 21 (g) of the Convention;
  2. Also takes note that Ethiopia has requested assistance in the amount of US$150,000 from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the implementation of this project;
  3. Decides that, from the information provided in file no. 02045, the request responds as follows to the criteria for granting International Assistance given in paragraphs 10 and 12 of the Operational Directives:

Criterion A.1: The primary beneficiaries of the project are the communities living in Lalibela town and its surrounding region. Representatives from eighty communities associated with Lalibela discussed and endorsed the project during a meeting with UNESCO and the Ethiopian Heritage Authority in June 2021. The request clearly demonstrates the involvement of communities in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of the project. Community representatives will furthermore be part of the project’s Steering Committee.

Criterion A.2: In general, the budget is clearly presented, corresponds to the planned activities and is consistent with the timetable. Nevertheless, further clarification is required on the budgetary details for some activities, notably for the training activities related to different handicraft skills (Activity 2).

Criterion A.3: While some of the activities could benefit from more detail and the link between them could be further developed, the overall request is well structured. It consists of five activities that align with the objectives of the request. These include: a) awareness raising, b) conducting training workshops for youth on traditional manuscript writing and maintenance, as well as on painting and weaving; c) translating the Convention text into Amharic; d) providing the necessary equipment to the traditional church schools hosting training courses to ensure the transmission of traditional knowledge. The proposed timeframe of thirty-six months is realistic for achieving the expected results of the project given the challenging context related to the ongoing conflict in the region.

Criterion A.4: The training activities involving teachers, youth, community practitioners and church administrators have the potential to produce lasting results and contribute to the transmission and dissemination of knowledge and skills related to living heritage beyond the project’s implementation. Additionally, the implementation of restoration activities is expected to revive the interests of students and communities in traditional church schools and their programmes. The translation of the Convention’s text into Amharic will further raise awareness and knowledge about the Convention and the importance of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage at the national level. Finally, the project exemplifies an integrated approach to heritage safeguarding where the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage property benefits from the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage practiced by the communities concerned by that property.

Criterion A.5: Due to the ongoing emergency situation, the submitting State Party will not contribute financially to the project. However, the State Party is encouraged to report on any in-kind contributions that may be made during the project’s implementation.

Criterion A.6: The project is clearly aimed at developing the capacities of the communities concerned, with an emphasis on traditional custodians and youth. During the various training workshops, seventy students will be trained by practitioners on sharing and transmitting their traditional knowledge related to specific craft areas. Additionally, the project includes a capacity-building component that will benefit the church’s administrative staff, academics and cultural officers of the implementing agency. The project will therefore contribute to raising awareness of the importance of safeguarding living heritage and skills related to traditional crafts.

Criterion A.7: The State Party has previously benefited from International Assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the project entitled ‘Ongota: the Language of the Biraile’ (file no. 00176, December 2008 – April 2009, US$5,000). The work stipulated by the contract related to this assistance was carried out in accordance with UNESCO regulations.

Paragraph 10(a): The proposed activities are local in scope and imply cooperation with local and national implementing partners, such as the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, the Ethiopian National Commission for UNESCO and the UNESCO Office in Addis Ababa. The project also foresees the active participation of academia, representatives of student associations, government officials and civil society organisations.

Paragraph 10(b): The request highlights that the project will benefit both the communities and the Ethiopian church at national level. In addition, the institutions involved in the project will benefit from the capacity-building activities. These trainings have the potential to enable teachers and students to create their own sources of income, thus contributing to improving their living conditions.

  1. Approves the International Assistance request from Ethiopia for the project entitled Emergency response to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of Lalibela World Heritage property and the surrounding area endangered by conflict and grants the amount of US$150,000 to the State Party for this purpose;
  2. Commends the State Party for submitting an International Assistance with an integrated approach to heritage safeguarding, which recognizes the interdependence between the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage property and the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage practiced by the communities concerned at that property;
  3. Encourages the State Party to share its experiences and the results with the international community upon completion of the project;
  4. Requests that the Secretariat reach an agreement with the requesting State Party on the technical details of the assistance, paying particular attention to ensuring that the budget and work plan of the activities to be covered by the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund are detailed and specific enough to provide sufficient justification of the expenditures;
  5. Invites the State Party to use Form ICH-04-Report to report on the use of the assistance granted.