Ethiopia: Refurbishment to Begin On Monolithic Lalibela Rock-Hewn Churches

Addis Ababa — Preparations are being underway to launch the restoration of Monolithic Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, according to Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH).

The refurbishment work is expected to be completed in three years with an outlay of 300 million birr covered mainly by the government, keeping with its original values.

The Rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela, which are a cultural UNESCO world heritage sites, have suffered damage because of their age and in 2008 a metal roof was erected as temporary solution to protect possible cracks and damages caused by sun slights.

Cultural Heritage Conservation Director, Hailu Zeleke told ENA that the reinstatement of Lalibela churches need painstaking studies before any actual restoration activities initiated in order to keep its originality.

The Bethe-Golgotha Michael pilot project which was inaugurated recently is being under-study, which is expected to play its critical role for the incoming similar projects.

Activities are underway in collaboration with the government led Construction Design and Supervision Institution before any actual rehabilitation program, which is the critical part on how to manage the restoration process, he noted.

Following the final document from the supervision, doors will open for standardized tender for international companies and the rehabilitation work will start soon on the Rock-hewn churches which are under temporary shelters, according to the director.

There will be also a scientific committee which targeted to follow the technical parts of the restoration and consult the impact of the process on the values of heritage, it was stated.

Dr. Samuel Negash, a historian from Addis Ababa University said on his part that heritages are properties of the society. Societies are beneficiaries of the heritages despite the government have the big share of preserving those heritages.

Moreover, civic associations, NGOs among others must be exerted their maximum efforts to restore and preserve the countries grand values, the expert emphasized.

The installation of metal shelters to protect a cluster of five sites in Lalibela from the elements has dried them out so much that they are crumbling, according to UNESCO.

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