New trails of discovery and resilience in Petra

Date 16.01.2020

Petra is the symbol of Jordan: the city, with its carved rose-red sandstone rock facades, tombs, and temples has been a world heritage site since 1985 and the most visited archeological attraction of the country. Still, some paths are yet to be discovered and for us 2020 is the year to leverage the cultural heritage of one of the new Seven Wonders to build resilience for the whole community.

AVSI Jordan is a contractor for a new 8-month project funded by the development agency GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit) and implemented by UNESCO in collaboration with the PDTRA (Petra development and tourism region authority)

The aim of the project is to promote sustainable socio-economic development through a two-pronged approach, which entails investing in cultural heritage preservation while also creating short-term job opportunities for vulnerable Jordanians through a Cash for Work mechanism. By doing so, the project links humanitarian and development assistance, insofar as it mitigates the immediate need for employment creation, while also paving the way for longer term investments in cultural heritage preservation.

117 Jordanian women and men living in the surrounding will work in the clearance of two trails (to the Unayshu tomb and to the Monastery), their consolidation, conservation, presentation, maintenance and touristic promotion. Moreover, works will entail the cleaning of the two upper sides of the “Siq”, a narrow gorge at the main entrance which leads right to Petra's most elaborate ruin, Al Khazneh (the Treasury).

Beneficiaries will be provided with on-the-job training : for most of them the project is the chance to learn a job and increase their likelihood to find employment even after the project ends.

On the long term, the project aims to promote sustainable tourism as a means for boosting Jordan’s economy, with a view to increase the capacity of the local economy to absorb labor.

AVSI will be responsible for developing a contractual and monitoring plan for the Jordanian workers involved in the Cash for Work activities; moreover, AVSI will coordinate with UNESCO and PDTRA the technical supervision of the 2 trails rehabilitation as well as cleaning of the 2 upper sides of the Siq. In implementing the cultural heritage-related Cash for Work activities in Petra, AVSI will focus on tackling multiple issues:

  • There is a strong need to increase the resilience of local vulnerable people
  • The recent increase in tourism calls for the need to diversify the trails offer in order to relieve the pressure from the core area of the Petra Archaeological Park
  • To the extent possible, students and young graduates in cultural heritage and conservation related disciplines, might be tasked, as skilled workforces, to support UNESCO’s in the execution of the interventions at the Petra Archaeological Park, derived from the Site Maintenance and Tourism Development Plans (SMTDP), that the German Jordanian University will develop for the site of Petra
  • The uniqueness of the site, the extensiveness of the area (264 km2), and the natural hazards (especially geomorphological and hydraulic hazards) to which Petra Archaeological Park is exposed, call for the need to develop sound conservation strategies, water management strategies and resource management strategies
  • It’s important to raise local communities’ awareness on heritage management and conservation, focusing on natural risks preparedness and mitigation

"Petra Archaeological Park is a site that exudes culture and history. By promoting greater community engagement in the rehabilitation and conservation of this site through its cash for work initiative, AVSI aims to make sure that a larger section of the local community will benefit from the revenues generated by tourism - Nicola Orsini, AVSI Jordan representative says -. Valuing culture and tradition is of paramount importance to ensure people are not stripped of their identity; but culture becomes even more important when it can act as a catalyst for building the resilience of local communities".

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