Strengthening Temples of Heritage: How the Heritage Emergency Fund of UNESCO is supporting museums professionals in safeguarding museum collections in Cameroon.
04 April 2023
With multiple crises highly affecting museums, the danger of heritage in extinction goes beyond the loss of identity, it is the history and the soul of a people
With the funding support from the Heritage Emergency Fund (HEF), UNESCO carried out evaluations on Heritage sites in Cameroon’s Far North and Northwest crisis-affected regions. These assessments showed the rapid deterioration and disappearance of cultural heritage. The Boko Haram Crisis in the Far North Region and the socio-political crisis in the Northwest and Southwest Regions have had drastic consequences on population movements, resulting in abandonment, looting and destruction of cultural goods in these regions. The Lifafa Museum in the Southwest Region and the Logone Birni in the Far North region were the most recent affected by natural disasters.
As these disasters persist within the context of conflicts and climate change hazards, UNESCO tailored the workshop sessions with modules aimed at empowering museum professionals to mitigate the impacts on museum collections. The modules included current approaches to sustainable documentation of museum especially through digital transformative tools and resources.
Part of the training engaged the participants in practical sessions on how to administer first aid to cultural heritage in crisis. During one of the sessions, Dr Frank Ogou, the cultural expert and Director of the School of African Heritage trained the participants in identifying, documenting and safeguarding collections in cases of flood, fire, theft, and other related risks. He engaged in expanded knowledge on museum management including preventive conservation of museum collections and security of museum collections in case of natural disaster like flooding and anthropic disaster like fire.
“It was very impressive as I learned new skills on how to manipulate objects in museums, the various emergency security measures put in place in case urgency situations in the museum and how to preserve objects from deteriorating and arriving a stage of curative conservation.” Reported Mrs Etung Atumkeze, Staff of the Department of Cultural Heritage Ministry of Arts and Culture.
As the Director of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Arts and Culture mentioned in closing remarks, it was important to give a national perspective to the training to strengthen the skills of curators as regard security and safety of museums. An important outcome of the successful workshop was the drafting of a security plan for museums and heritage in times of emergency by all 40 participants.
We wish to thank the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund and its donors (the Qatar Fund for Development, the Kingdom of Norway, the French Republic, the Government of Canada, the Principality of Monaco, ANA Holdings INC., the Republic of Estonia, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Principality of Andorra, the Slovak Republic, and the Republic of Serbia) for their support which made this activity possible.
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization