Project

Local Development through the Rehabilitation and Revitalization of the Historic Built Environment in Palestine

gaza_sant_hilarion

Budget: more than 5M$

Project duration: 01-05-2012

Location: Palestine

Funded by Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the project represents a concrete step towards mainstreaming the work on cultural heritage preservation in Palestine to meet the national priorities and needs building on the Palestinian National Development Plans and the Sector strategies for Cultural Heritage. The project is aiming at Improving the quality of lives of marginalized communities through the rehabilitation and revitalization of historic environment.

Background

Throughout this project, UNESCO collaborated with four major local players in the field of Cultural Heritage Preservation: the Riwaq Centre for Architectural Conservation, the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation (CCHP), the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) and the Welfare Association (WA), to highlight the role of cultural heritage preservation as a means for socioeconomic development in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The project consisted of renovating historic buildings and areas in targeted historic centres and transformating them into spaces available for public use, with a simultaneous focus on building capacities in cultural heritage preservation within the local community. This effort contributed to the enhancement of conservation skills and knowledge, particularly among young architects and workers, and worked towards promoting cultural tourism, raising public awareness on the values of cultural heritage, and introducing the socioeconomic aspects of cultural heritage preservation by creating job opportunities and providing suitable facilities for public use.

Overview of the project

The project began in 2012 and received $18 million in funding from the Government of Sweden to support local development through the rehabilitation and revitalization of the historic built environment in Palestine. UNESCO Ramallah’s dedication to the preservation of Palestinian cultural heritage led to the complete revitalization of  75 historic buildings and sites located in historic Palestinian cities and rural localities in the West Bank. Within the scope of this project, two pilot sites were rehabilitated in the Gaza Strip, which provided a clear assessment of the needs, challenges and shortcomings of the cultural heritage sector in this locality, most notably the lack of technical skills.  In total, the temporary employment generated by the rehabilitation works was equivalent to 111,000 direct working days, which contributed to enhancing the socioeconomic situation in the targeted communities, while providing and enhancing youth and women’s access to social services and facilities. Community awareness was increased as a result of comprehensive outreach activities detailing the importance of cultural heritage and the value in preserving its assets: a total of over 180 activities were conducted, targeting 17,200 participants. Finally, the capacities of 170 engineers, architects and conservation workers were strengthened through on-job training, ad hoc courses and internships.

Objectives

The programme involved four major cultural heritage organizations in Palestine and aimed to:

  • Renovate  and rehabilitate historic buildings and sites in historic centres to provide public social services.
  • Create temporary and permanent job opportunities contributing to the development of the local economy.
  • Encourage capacity development in cultural heritage preservation through enhanced conservation skills and knowledge, with an emphasis on young architects and workers.
  • Raise public awareness on the value of cultural heritage among youth, governmental decision makers and civil society actors.
  • Provide policy support to Palestinian institutions to assist in moving culture to the center of the national agenda.
75
Historic buildings and sites

restored

170
Architects and professionals

trained on techniques of heritage conservation, natural & cultural Heritage management

111,000
Direct working days

as temporary jobs created

180
Awareness activities involving

involving 17,200 participant; 60% females

Cultural Heritage Factsheet