|A UNESCO Heritage monumemt in Timbuktu, Mali,|
In its third year of celebrating African World Heritage Day, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), has declared the 2018 edition in celebration of the continent's young people.
The African World Heritage Day was established three years ago to raise awareness about the immense potential of the continent's cultural and natural heritage. Also, the
yearly event, marked on May 5, aims to alert the world to the vulnerability of Africa's 21sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
However, the UNESCO, in a press statement on its website, said: "This year, it is indeed the young people of Africa who are being honoured on African World Heritage Day". UNESCO noted that the youth make 60% of the African population under 25 years old, with a projection of over one billion young people and children by 2050. The statement, however, lamented that the young people's strength "is underutilised: the youth unemployment rate is increasing exponentially - in West Africa and Central Africa it has reached over 60%".
The UNESCO statement argued that investing in the safeguarding and enhancement of the heritage can create new education and employment opportunities.
Specifically, the global organisation said Africa's underutilised youthfull population can contribute so much in heritage preservation. "The preservation and enhancement of this heritage are essential factors in sustainable development, the only kind of development capable of meeting the complex challenges that face Africa today and include climate change, the challenge of education and the economy, and rapid urbanisation", UNESCO said. "Mobilising local communities, especially young people, around the safeguarding of the heritage, involving them in projects that place value on their cultural identity and natural environment, is one of the best ways of opening up prospects for the future and for development". The organisation explained that through training and education, the mobilisation may eventually prove to be most effective.
"Involving communities in local and regional projects helps to stem the rural exodus and migration, and to defuse the sentiments of exclusion and alienation that breed violence and radicalisation".
And came an assurance: "Africa is a priority for UNESCO". A list of projects being carried out says as much. "For many years now, the organisation has been working closely with the African World Heritage Fund and civil society actors so as to give the magnificent heritage of Africa its due, and to implement durable social and educational policies and promote a culture of peace".
The Initiatives, they said, have been successful. Among such are: the rehabilitation of the world heritage sites of Timbuktu, and the enhancement of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Elsewhere there is the project to rehabilitate Lake Chad, which the organisation said it recently launched with its African partners. "It is part of this same overall approach: by implementing education and training activities, restoring biosphere reserves and enhancing the cultural heritage, the project contributes to acting on the causes of poverty and works in a lasting way for peace and security in the Lake Chad basin region".
UNESCO mentioned its activities in other spots as well: the Sahel where it is developing educational activities to prevent extremism; designed a network of African universities to improve cooperation in heritage conservation launched in Zimbabwe".