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Églises de Lalibela en Éthiopie
This project aims at responding to the urgent restoration and preservation needs of the churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia.

The project is part of the commitments made by France during the presidential visit of March 2019 for the Ethiopian Cultural Heritage Program. AFD has contributed to the financing of the preservation and restoration of the churches of Lalibela and the enhancement of the heritage and tourism of this major site in the history of Ethiopia.

The churches of Lalibela are eleven monolithic churches, made at the beginning of the 13th century in the North East of Ethiopia, by King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela who wanted to allow Ethiopian Orthodox Christians to have their own Jerusalem on their land. It is still today the main site of pilgrimage in Ethiopia and a major tourist site. The churches of Lalibela are listed as World Heritage by UNESCO.

This project concerns the financing of a conservation, restoration and enhancement program for the Lalibela site. It integrates restoration actions for certain churches on the site into an integrated project for the production and dissemination of knowledge, the strengthening of skills, the promotion and support of cultural tourism that respects the site and the communities it unites.


The overall program of intervention around the churches of Lalibela is carried out through various projects. This intervention responds to the urgent restoration and preservation needs of the churches of Lalibela, through measures identified by the team, while building sustainable intervention capacities.

The specific objectives of the project are to:

  • Component 1: Launch an emergency restoration program around 24 priority interventions on fragile and unstable areas of churches.
  • Component 2: Restore paintings and sculptures inside churches.
  • Component 3: Build the capacity of Ethiopians to preserve, conserve and enhance their heritage through training workshops and a curriculum at the newly established Heritage Management Institute in Lalibela
  • Component 4: Deepen the historical knowledge of site and region, to increase its tourism potential
  • Component 5: Collect and archive a comprehensive digital database on Lalibela and other Ethiopian heritages.
  • The project’s intervention in 22 emergency restorations of extremely fragile and unstable areas will make Lalibela safe both to the community and to the tourists. The additional two priorities of intervention (lightning and floor repair) will also enhance the site.
  • The intervention on paintings and sculptures inside the churches will also restore and preserve the paintings and sculptures and enhance the site.
  • Knowledge transfer and Experience sharing through training in conservation, heritage management and archeology.
  • Digital data center will be established and all the archives will be digitalized. 
Project start date
4 years
Duration of funding
Financing tool
5 100 000
Financing amount
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)