Archaeology and Economic Development 2012

Community Involvement in conservation of rock art in Kenya

Two of the core missions of TARA, the Trust for African Rock Art, a Nairobi-based NGO, are to create awareness of African rock art and to promote and support its conservation. From TARA’s experiences in the past decade, it believes that one of the most effective ways to conserve rock art is by engaging local communities in ways that ensure they are beneficiaries of any conservation efforts. The Trust believes that the success of a heritage conservation strategy largely depends on the strength of its links to the local economy. This linking in TARA’s experience is important for the longer-term sustainability of the heritage programme and of the asset itself - particularly in developing countries.

TARA has developed a model for involving communities in the conservation of rock art heritage through the engagement of communities in developing responsible tourism. So far these projects are with the Turkana people of northern Kenya, the Abasuba people of Mfangano Island, Lake Victoria Kenya, the Iteso in Kenya and Uganda and the Warangi in Kondoa Tanzania(a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Through this paper the author will demonstrate the need for these projects as a conservation strategy, discuss the implementation process, successes as well as the embedded challenges. In the end the paper will conclude that archaeology is a tool that can make significant contributions towards sustainable economic development. 

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