The Afghanistan Heritage and Extractive Industries Development Initiative

A Buddhist Sculpture Identified and Restored from the Mes Aynak ©UNESCO

Mes Aynak Archaeolotical Site ©UNESCO


The Project’s main scope was to introduce the protection and management of tangible heritage within large-scale development initiatives in general and mining activities in particular. The Project included a number of strategic activities, from the archaeological screening of six areas and related digital database to the revision of the current Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, thus laying the groundwork for an effective combination of culture with modernization at the legal, institutional and operational levels.

The project is an initiative to enhance the institutional and technical capacity of the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture to ensure its collaboration with other development ministries (Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Ministry of Urban Development and Ministry of Public Works) in identifying archaeological sites and carrying out preventive archaeology around development projects in general and mining sites in particular.

Financed by the World Bank previously via the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum and of Finance and currently via the Ministry of Information and Culture, the programme is successfully conducting the following eight main activities:

1) Archaeological screening on six prioritized mining areas with the identification of some 800 unknown cultural heritage sites;

2) Preparation of the framework of management plans for the selected sites;

3) Development of a screening and monitoring framework for each identified site;

4) Heritage Impact Assessment Report for the Hajigak mining site (located close to the World Heritage Property of the Bamiyan Valley);

5) Further scientific study of the site of Mes Aynak (2nd biggest copper mine in the World, on top of which a large Buddhist site/city is sitting);

6) Development of capacity building programs and awareness-raising campaigns such as a high-level International Scientific Symposium in May 2016 in Rome, Italy;

7) The first digital database of heritage sites in Afghanistan, with some 2,090 cultural heritage sites inserted;

8) Completed the analytical proposal for the revision of the National Law for the Protection of Heritage Sites in Afghanistan (established in 2004).

9) Technical assistance for the preservation of Mes Aynak archaeological site including the improvement of the scientific documentation and preservation of the precious architectural relics still onsite.

10) Preparation of the first pilot project for the conservation of one of the archaeological complexes to be used as a reference for completing the general preservation plan.

Based on the successful implementation of the original contract, UNESCO has received a second phase of the project to lay the groundwork for an effective combination of culture with development initiatives at legal, institutional and operational levels.



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