The Government of Zimbabwe, together with Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the French public development institution, launched a EUR-3-million project for the rehabilitation and development of the Great Zimbabwe World Heritage site in Masvingo Province, in the southeastern part of Zimbabwe. The Great Zimbabwe Development Project aims to promote sustainable and inclusive tourism development and cultural heritage of Zimbabwe. This will be achieved by improving the conservation of the World Heritage Site and strengthening national capacities to manage the site while promoting interlinkages with the local economy. Indeed, the project through the development of a cultural hub will work to highlight the Shona culture through the empowerment of youth and women.
The project was launched by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Dr E.D. Mnangagwa at the Great Zimbabwe World Heritage Site; with His Excellency Mr. Laurent Chevallier, the French Ambassador to Zimbabwe in attendance. This funding from AFD will see the visitor experience at the Great Zimbabwe World Heritage Site elevated to international standards. The cooperation between the two countries will also strengthen the preservation of Zimbabwe’s cultural heritage.
The three-year project will be implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in collaboration with the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) under the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage (MOHACH). UNOPS and NMMZ will work closely with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) who are the custodian of World Heritage Sites. Other national partners include the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry (MOETHI), the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), the Great Zimbabwe Board, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), Masvingo Rural District Council (RDC) and the National Parks and Wildlife Authority Management. The collaboration between all project partners will guarantee that the project preserves and safeguards the cultural heritage of the Great Zimbabwe World Heritage site so that future generations can enjoy, benefit and learn from the legacy of Zimbabwe.
The Great Zimbabwe World Heritage Site, from which the country draws its name, represents one of the most spectacular architectural and cultural landscapes in Africa. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. It is the largest dry-stone structure in sub-Saharan Africa. Enhancing the value of the Great Zimbabwe World Heritage site has the potential to contribute to employment, economic growth, and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Zimbabwe.
The French Ambassador Mr. Laurent Chevallier expressed the high regard with which his country holds cultural heritage and its preservation. Cultural heritage strengthens local identity and can be a key lever for growth and development.
The funding for the rehabilitation and development of the Great Zimbabwe World Heritage site is in line with the Zimbabwe National Development Strategy 1 (2021-2025) under tourism, where the country seeks to look beyond traditional tourism to invest in alternative forms, and places of tourism. Masvingo Province has many local attractions such as Chamavara caves, Lake Mutirikwi, and Sikalo Lion Park which will all benefit from the promotion of local tourism in Zimbabwe.