Italy approves a 2,4 Million Euros initiative to Preserve and Enhance the Cultural Heritage of the Bamiyan Valley at risk of disappearance

On April 28th, 2021 the Italian Development Cooperation Joint Committee approved the initiative “Actions to Safeguard Conserve and Enhance the Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Bamiyan Valley for Sustainable Growth, Peace and Stability” with a 2,4 million Euros grant. This reaffirms Italy commitment to conserve and enhance Bamiyan Cultural Heritage as a tool for promoting national identity and sustainable development. The 3-year initiative will be executed by the Afghan Government through the Ministry of Information and Culture.

The main goal of the project is to conserve, enhance, protect and sustainably manage “The Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley”, which witnesses the artistic and religious developments that characterized ancient Bactria, with cultural influences into the Gandhara school of Buddhist Art from the 1st to the 13th century. As far as the tangible aspects are concerned, the initiative will focus on the recovery and sustainable management of the Islamic fortress of Shahr i Zuhak (the Red City), one of the eight sites of the Bamiyan Valley, a World Cultural Heritage Property, listed with UNESCO since 2003 as “The Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley”, while, as far as the intangible aspects are concerned, it will take into consideration the conservation and enhancement of arts, music, literature of the area.

“The tangible and intangible Cultural Heritage of the Bamiyan Valley is at risk of disappearance; through this intervention we aim not only at conserving, sustainably manage and enhancing the unique World Heritage Site, but also to revitalize the socio-economic potentials and the intangible cultural aspects of the Valley, sensitizing local communities and make them ready to participate actively in the achievement of the SDGs and 2030 Agenda” said Mr. Giovanni Grandi, Head of Office at the Italian Agency for the Development Cooperation in Kabul, commenting on the approval of the new project.

The initiative, in fact, is fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda, especially with Goal 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth, and Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities. It will provide job opportunities within the rehabilitation work to be executed at the Shahr i Zuhak fortress, it will create job opportunities within the tourism industry and protecting the intangible heritage of the Bamiyan Valley.

The project will also implement the environmental and cultural heritage impact assessment of a Bypass, a new road designed to ease the heavy traffic facing the area of particular historical-artistic interest, the so-called Buddha Cliff.
The new initiative follows other six main Italian interventions in the Bamiyan Valley: two of them are cultural heritage conservation and enhancement projects, implemented by UNESCO. These aim at creating a durable operational framework for the management of the heritage sites, thereby contributing to the removal of the Bamiyan Valley from the List of World Heritage in Danger, in particular, among other actions, with the formulation and adoption of the Bamiyan Valley Management Plan and the creation of the Archaeological Park; a third one is an Urban Planning project, implemented by the University of Florence – SAGAS, meant at decreasing anthropic pressure on the cultural sites.

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