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Kenya elected member of World Heritage Committee

 Aisha Jumwa, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Gender, Culture, Arts and Heritage who led the Kenyan delegation at UNESCO's Heritage Committee meeting. [Courtesy]

Kenya has been elected member of the World Heritage Committee during the 24th session of the general assembly of state parties in Paris, France.

The World Heritage Committee is composed of Kenya, Benin, Canada, Chile, Cuba, India, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Lithuania, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco and the Netherlands.

Other state parties in the committee include New Zealand, Norway, Peru, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Tunisia, and the United States of America.

"Kenya formally ratified the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage, also known as the “World Heritage Convention,” on Wednesday last week, "said the National Museum of Kenya (NMK) in a statement.

NMK said the General Assembly of States parties elected Kenya and Peru to the committee at the third open ballot.

The committee meets every year to inscribe sites on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage List and to review the state of sites already on the list and whether action needs to be taken to support their safeguarding.

It also maintains the list of World Heritage in danger.

NMK noted that there are currently 851 cultural or natural sites on the world heritage list for their unique natural and cultural value, and they are situated in 141 countries globally including Kenya.

Africa has the highest number of sites on the world heritage list in danger exacerbated by climate change, poor management, armed conflicts, pollution, poaching, and uncontrolled urbanization.

"Kenya promotes its world heritage sites and biospheres in a bid to enhance their tourism and economic value to the country," said NMK. 

To become a world heritage site, a place such as a monument, forest, island, lake, desert and mountain has to be recognized for its special cultural and natural value.

Kenya has seven cultural and natural sites that are designated by UNESCO as World Heritage sites because of their importance in cultural, historical, natural, and archaeological value.

The cultural sites are the Lamu Old Town, Fort Jesus, The Sacred Kayas of Mijikenda, and the Thimlich Ohinga Archeological Site.

The natural sites are Kenya’s Lake System in the Great Rift Valley (Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru, and Lake Elementaita), Lake Turkana National Parks, and Mt Kenya National Park.

The Fort Jesus Museum in Mombasa built by the Portuguese in 1596 was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2011 and highlighted as one of the outstanding and well-preserved examples of 16th century Portuguese military fortifications.

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