Tag Archives: Ethiopia

Community Engagement: second workshop in Ethiopia

HERITΛGE traveled to Ethiopia for a series of training activities in April, including a 3-day workshop on Engaging Communities in Cultural Heritage, delivered in person to 22 heritage caretakers in Hawassa, a regional city in the Sidama Region. We held the workshop in Hawassa to improve accessibility and inclusion for people living outside the capital, Addis Ababa. The workshop was delivered in collaboration with Hawassa University which provided the premises of the Wondo Genet campus, 37 km from Hawassa’s town centre.

Led by Drs. Lena Stefanou and Aris Anagnostopoulos, the workshop focused on community engagement as one of the key strategies for preserving Ethiopia’s rich cultural heritage.

Participants included academics from Hawassa, officials from the Sidama and the Central Ethiopia Culture and Tourism Bureaux, and heritage managers from the Wako Gutu Foundation and a local private museum.

During the first day of the workshop, participants were introduced to the rationale for creating a community engagement plan. Participants were divided into working groups where they brought their real-life projects as examples for the exercises and the discussion, through our facilitation and guidance with specific questions and tasks.  

On the second day of the workshop, we focused on the topic of audience development and audience segmentation. The last day of the workshop was dedicated to the oral history methods and techniques.

“The workshop provided invaluable insights and practical skills for enhancing my teaching, research, and professional practice,” said Abrham Fentaw Ketema, Head of the Ecotourism and Cultural Heritage Management Department, at Hawassa University. “Moving forward, I am eager to participate in similar training programs and collaborative projects from the HERITAGE organization. I believe that these opportunities not only enrich our skills but also contribute to the collective growth and sustainability of heritage preservation efforts.”

The training is part our HERITΛGE’s HerMaP Africa program that is generously supported by the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program.

Giving Ethiopian Heritage Managers the Tools to Engage Local Communities

In April, HERITAGE traveled to Ethiopia for a series of training activities, including a 3-day workshop in Engaging Communities in Cultural Heritage, delivered in person to 23 heritage managers in Addis Ababa; 22 officials from the Ethiopian Heritage Authority, and one from the Wako Gutu Foundation.

The workshop was led by Drs. Lena Stefanou and Aris Anagnostopoulos and focused on community engagement as one of the key strategies for preserving Ethiopia’s rich cultural heritage.

Through interactive sessions and real-world case studies, workshop participants explored how to identify communities, understand their needs and capacities, and develop effective engagement plans.

The workshop employed a participatory approach, blending theoretical frameworks with practical exercises. On day 1, participants focused on defining communities, collaboration strategies, and best practices. They identified real-life projects and engaged in group discussions to analyze community engagement strategies. The second day was devoted to audience development and segmentation. The group explored the concept of non-audience and strategies for engaging least engaged groups. Participants developed audience engagement plans and focused activities in team settings. The final day was focused on oral history methods and techniques, with participants learning more about interviews and archiving techniques and taking part in an immersive role-playing exercise that allowed them to practice interview skills and draft sample interview guides.

The training’s participatory approach and focus on real-life projects ensured its relevance and effectiveness, with participants saying they found the presentation insightful and adding that the workshop proved a collaborative effort that enriched their understanding of cultural heritage and community engagement.

This workshop was part of our HerMaP Africa program which is generously supported by the Mellon Foundation.

Strategic Planning for Ethiopian Heritage Managers

Ethiopian heritage managers completed a HERITΛGE Strategic Planning for Heritage Managers workshop online in late November. The trainees consisted of heads, directors, and experts representing the regional bureaus of Tigray, Somali, Oromia, and Amhara.

The workshop was led by Dr. Alexandros Papalexandris, Assistant Professor at the Athens University of Economics, and is part of the HerMaP Africa which is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place Program. This was the second HerMaP Africa workshop to take place in Ethiopia and focused on these specific regions with the primary goal of increasing the capacity of the local Culture and Tourism Bureaus for strategic planning.

During this 3-day training, the participants got acquainted with the notion of strategy and understood why having a strategy is crucial. They had the chance to reflect on the mission and the vision of their bureau and set up strategic goals for the future. They identified different shareholders, and they analyzed the micro and macro environment of their region, using tools such as SWOT and Porter’s analysis. Finally, they learned how to recognize critical success factors in developing and implementing an effective strategy. As a result of the workshop, participants were encouraged to set up a business plan for the Culture and Tourism Bureau of their region, in collaboration with their teams and staff members.

“As Head of the Tigray’s Culture and Tourism Bureau, I found the workshop very helpful and at the same time challenging because it intensively encouraged me to be more critical of what I am trying to develop in my region, especially now, that we are in a post-war, post-crisis period and we are trying to re-operate our office,” said Dr. Atsbha Gebreegziabher, Head of the Tigray Culture and Tourism Bureau.

“The workshop was quite informative and very participatory,” added Selamawit Getachew from the Ethiopian Heritage Authority.

About Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive.

Empowering Ethiopia’s Heritage Sector: HERITΛGE’s First In-Country Workshop

Preserving cultural heritage goes beyond the institutional practices of protecting ancient structures; it involves engaging communities, understanding shared heritage values , and building a future that respects local perceptions of the past. It is with this in mind that HERITΛGE held its inaugural workshop in Ethiopia in July, training 22 key heritage managers in Community Engagement in Heritage Management.

HERITΛGE Director, Dr. Evangelos Kyriakidis, and Xanthippi Kontogianni, Ethiopia Programs Manager, held the 3-day intensive workshop in Addis Ababa, welcoming heritage professionals representing a diverse range of stakeholders within Ethiopia’s cultural and creative industries. Among the participants were representatives from a diverse range of stakeholders including Jinka University, Madda Walabu University, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ethiopian Heritage Authority, the National Library, and various civil society organizations among them the Waku Gutu Foundation, Heritage Watch, and Save Heritage, History and Culture of Ethiopia.

The workshop is part of HERITΛGE’s program for Ethiopia, supported by the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place program.

Nurturing Capacity for Community Engagement

At the heart of our Communities Engagement workshop lays a commitment to building capacity within heritage management. In an ever-evolving world, local communities are keepers of key information for the understanding of heritage while accountability for protecting their own history and values is indispensable and crucial for sustainable heritage preservation. HERITΛGE has structured the workshop to address these needs comprehensively.

Throughout the workshop discussion facilitated by Dr. Kyriakidis, participants shared examples and case studies from the Ethiopian context and explored the issues affecting the the management of cultural assets in the country, highlighting among others the challenges, needs and opportunities facing heritage managers.

Workshop Outcomes:

  • A Network of Collaborators: The workshop serves as a nexus for like-minded professionals to network, share experiences, and collectively envision a future where heritage management is a catalyst for positive change.
  • Diverse Perspectives: With participants from universities, government bodies, regional offices, and civil society organizations, the workshop brought together diverse viewpoints, sparking enriching discussions and cross-pollination of ideas.
  • Community-Centric Approach: HERITΛGE’s emphasis on community engagement resonated strongly, setting the tone for a future where heritage sites become integral to community development.
  • Concrete Strategies:Participants departed the workshop armed with practical strategies to enhance community involvement, integrate local narratives, and develop sustainable heritage management plans.

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