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Heritage Africa Program Preserves Ancient Mosques, Ancient Cultures

HERITAGE and the Mellon Foundation award small grants to 19 African Heritage Projects, with a focus on preservation and development of ecotourism in communities across Africa.

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HerMap and the Mellon Foundation award small grants to 19 African Heritage Projects, with a focus on preservation and development of ecotourism in communities across Africa.

HERITAGE announces the first 19 recipients of its HerMaP Africa small grants for organizations, groups, and individuals working with HERITΛGE in Africa.

In the first round, over USD220,000 has been awarded to projects that focus on the protection and promotion of local cultural and natural heritage and aim to contribute to the socio-economic development of local communities and beyond.

By the end of 2024, USD1 million will have been awarded in small grants to African heritage projects.

According to HERITAGE Director Dr Evangelos Kyriakidis, these grants aim to unlock the potential of heritage in Africa and make a difference for the development of local communities.

“Heritage has the ability to empower, and we are confident that in partnership with local organizations, we can help create sustainable development and safeguard local heritage for generations to come,” says Kyriakidis.

To receive a small grant from the HerMaP Africa program, applicants have to demonstrate that their project has a lasting impact, develops capacity, builds networks, strengthens local skills, and has a strong, measurable impact for the protection of heritage and the benefit of local people.

According to Ghana Museum and Monuments Board Dr Mahmoud Malik Saako, the benefits are tangible.

“We are already seeing the effect the grant is having in transforming these valuable heritage resources for the community,” says Saako.

As an Assistant Director of Museums and Project Manager of the Islamic Heritage in northern Ghana, Saako says they were one of the first projects to receive a grant. Specifically, the project aims to restore three old mosques, which were born out of the long-distance trade networks that once existed in Northern Ghana.

Located along the old trade routes, there are ten remaining mosques in the region, all facing challenges posed by modernization, arabization, and climate change.

“The mosques are tangible evidence of the material culture and history of northern Ghana and are part of the valuable heritage resources of local communities. The communities realize the need to restore them as part of their culture and history and to develop ecotourism around them. Their preservation will go a long way to pave the way for their eventual inscription onto the World Monuments List,” says Saako.

HERITAGE says it is launching a new call for concept notes for small grants (USD5,000-50,000) for organizations, groups, and individuals working with heritage in Africa. It claims that it will fund projects that focus on the protection of and/or promotion of local heritage for socio-economic development in the continent.

Notes from the Editor: A full list of the projects that have been awarded small grants can be found here. Applications are still being accepted for the third round of small grants for heritage projects.

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