The site is composed of eleven rock churches inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and it represents a high place of pilgrimage for Ethiopians. Lalibela is an emblem of the Ethiopian national identity and a major tourist attraction in the economic development of the country. However, due to its deterioration, this cultural heritage is under threat.
Following an agreement in October 2018 between French President Emmanuel Macron and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, France launched a program to support the enhancement and development of Ethiopia's national heritage, including the site of Lalibela, with the aim of accompanying Ethiopia in the preservation of its heritage and contributing to developing the country's tourist appeal.
Thus, since 2019, France has already carried out several actions on the site of Lalibela, that this funding comes to continue. Including the mobilization of solidarity funds for innovative projects (PSPI) that allowed the realization of the feasibility study for the protection of churches (by canopies) and for the restoration of four of them.
The funding is structured around three components:
- A first component dedicated to the preparation of the physical interventions of protection and restoration of the eleven churches of Lalibela;
- A second component dedicated to the reinforcement of the capacities of the Authority for Research and Protection of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH), which is the project manager of the program;
- A third component dedicated to the preparation of an urban, tourism, social and economic development program for the city of Lalibela.
- Definition of a preservation program for the churches of Lalibela validated by UNESCO;
- Definition of a program of actions allowing to contribute to an inclusive social and economic development of the population;
- The Authority for Research and Protection of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) was able to strengthen its capacities in terms of steering and monitoring the project as well as in terms of management and steering of the Ethiopian heritage policy.
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