The World Heritage Day 2022 theme is ‘Heritage and Climate‘ to promote conservation research and employ sustainable strategies to protect heritage sites.
In commemoration of this day, we therefore highlight our work to protect and promote cultural heritage sites that are at risk from the effects of climate change.
Our efforts to protect cultural heritages
With support from the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, heritage sites of the Alur and Bakonzo (in the WestNile and Rwenzori regions) under risk from climate change were identified, documented and booklets produced (Rwenzori and Alur), part-protected by planting trees and erecting a retainer wall at Wang-Lei in Pakwach and signposted.
Last year, CCFU expanded the project to Busoga and documented the Walumbe slavery site at Bukhaleba in Mayuge district.
At Ekhisalhalha Kya Kororo in Rwenzori, the first leaky dam was constructed in the area through Natural Flood Management learning exchanges with the National Trust of England Wales and Northern Ireland.
The effects of climate change on Uganda’s cultural heritage sites
The effects of climate change are being felt throughout Uganda, whether on agricultural production, forestry, the water levels in rivers and lakes, or the receding glaciers in the Rwenzori mountains. Such change also affects cultural sites and their associated values and traditions. Several sites of cultural importance, all associated with significant aspects of the cosmology and values of the concerned communities, have already disappeared. Cultural sites in the Rwenzori mountains and Alur region are particularly at risk.
These sites represent different elements of the tangible and intangible heritage of the Bakonzo who live on the slopes of the mountains, and the Alur people in WestNile which together, help to define their identity. It is against this background that CCFU in partnership with the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) embarked in late 2020 on a project aimed at contributing to the preservation of the important elements of the cultural heritage of communities in the Rwenzori and Alur regions.
This project not only illustrates the relationship between climate change and natural and cultural heritage, but also shows why measures to address climate change require the involvement of diverse stakeholders, especially of cultural leaders and other holders of indigenous knowledge.