B+CARE project – Saving Balkan heritage by preparing for Disasters

B+CARE project – Saving Balkan heritage by preparing for Disasters

Balkan Cultural Aid Response for Emergencies (B+CARE) is a regional project resulting from the partnership between Cultural Heritage without Borders-Albania and Urban Development Center-Belgrade (UDC), pursuing three mains objectives:

  • Understand the risks to heritage in the Balkans and formulate strategies to address those risks.
  • Train and deploy a network of volunteer that can conduct ‘first aid’ for cultural heritage across the Balkans (1st phase of the project)
  • Coordinate with and among national disaster response institutions and cultural institutions on effective strategies for cultural emergency response (2nd  phase of the project)

The B+CARE project was born out of the participation of CHwB – Albania and UDC – Belgrade in ICCROM courses: Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage (Japan, 2014) and First Aid for Cultural Heritage in Time of Crisis (Amsterdam, 2015). In addition, the desire to form a network of heritage volunteers emerged from the feedbacks of participants in the Regional Restoration Camps, who wished to remain involved in the protection of cultural heritage in their communities.

Rich from this experience and thanks to the support of Prince Claus Fund and the Government of Sweden, the first phase of the project was carried out from 2016 with the objective of setting up a network of volunteers and professionals trained for heritage disaster risk management and able to intervene in the Balkans. To this purpose, two workshops were conducted in March and November 2016, and in collaboration with CHwB organizations in the Western Balkans (CHwB-Albania, CHwB-BiHCHwB-Kosovo). These were designed to take participants through the disaster risk management (DRM) cycle: from risk assessment to prevention and mitigation to emergency preparedness, and response to post-disaster damage assessment and “cultural first aid” treatment. A total of 45 participants from 11 different countries (Balkans, Eastern Europe and North Africa) were trained in cultural heritage risk management.

Location :

Albania, Kosovo, BiH

Project dates :

2016 - Ongoing

Donor :

Swedish government, Prince Claus Fund

In collaboration with :

CHwB-BiHm CHwB-Kosovo, International Center for the Study of the Preservation and restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), Urban Development Center, Serbia

Work group:

CHwB Albania, Ing. Grigor Angjeliu, Ing. Ervin Paci, Ark.Rest. Arben Spaho, Rest. Gjerak Karaiskaj

B+CARE is now in the second phase of its implementation. This one aim to establish favorable conditions for coordination between national disaster response institutions and cultural institutions. The establishment of channels of communication and coordination between these two entities aims to set up effective strategies for responding to cultural emergencies, and allow the inclusion of cultural heritage assessments from early onsets of disaster response operations.

Key figures
1 network launched
2 volunteer trainings (one 5-day + one 3-week)
29 local and international trainers from 9 countries
45 participants from 11 countries

Reducing Disaster Risk: The Cisterns Project

Alongside the network of dedicated individuals, the B+CARE program foresees interventions that reduce the risks that monuments face. One of the first to be undertaken involves reducing the risk of fire in the historic centers of Gjirokastra and Berat, Albania, both classified world heritage.

The narrowness and proximity of the houses in the two historic centres makes them more vulnerable to fire.  However, within their walls, they also hold the key to fighting fire. Many of the historic homes in both of these cities have large cisterns on their ground floors, which gather rainwater that falls on their roofs.

For example, CHwB has conducted a pilot project to convert a cistern in each of the cities for use in case of fire, working closely with local firefighters and residents to ensure the best results for this firefighting system.  To get to know more about it, please check the project page here.