Isles, UNESCO team up to protect Stone Town heritage site

IN efforts to maintain Zanzibar’s major heritage site, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) with support from the Isles government has launched ‘capacity-building project’ on revitalising Stone Town of Zanzibar by promoting socio economic development.

The event held here was officiated by the Minister for Tourism and Heritage Mr Simai Mohamed Said, who thanked UNESCO and the project funders Oman government for taking the conservation of the world heritage site seriously.

Mr Said informed the audience, dominated by the heritage stakeholders, that despite the development pressure- particularly housing for the tourism industry, the government has shown commitment to continue preservation measures so that its heritage status remains.

“President Hussein Mwinyi is committed to see into it that the Stone Town’s sustainability is protected for the benefit of the country. Everyone in the country has a great role to play in the conservation efforts,” the minister said.

According to Ms Munira Hamoud- Project coordinator, the Stone Town is faced with many challenges, putting it at risk of losing its status if conservation efforts are not taken, adding that this has fortunately led to the capacity-building on uplifting Stone Town by promoting an inclusive socioeconomic development.

“Several workshops on the Stone Town’s history, risks, social and economic opportunities, conventions and how to maintain it need to be organised for different groups so that everyone feels ownership of the heritage site. It is a short project, we will have the workshops between now and the end of September this year,” she said.

Mr Michel Toto- Head of Office and UNESCO Representative in Tanzania said in his speech at the launching ceremony that “Zanzibar carries our heritage. It is a great symbol of our legacy from the past, what we live with today and what we pass on to future generations.”

He said that UNESCO continues to work with Tanzania to support implementing the mandate of this UN-Agency.

“This project is a testimony that UNESCO is continuing to support Tanzania in promoting its culture and strengthening the conservation and management practices in view of harnessing good conservation practices for socio-economic development.

“Thanks to the generous support of the Sultanate of Oman, and together with our partners, a series of workshops will be conducted in Zanzibar benefitting national authorities, management authorities and stakeholders (women and youths) with direct or indirect responsibility over the site,” said Toto.

He said the planned workshops were aimed at raising awareness, improving engagement and strengthening the capacities of all those responsible for the conservation, management, governance, communication, entrepreneurship and inclusivity of the World Heritage in Zanzibar.

Mr Toto further said: “This is what we have promised His Excellency the President of Zanzibar that UNESCO is ready to support his efforts to make Stone Town the best preserved and the best managed World heritage site in Africa.

“This is my promise that UNESCO will continue supporting your effort to implement the 1972 Convention in Zanzibar as part of the commitment of the government of the United Republic of Tanzania.”

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