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Wednesday May 27, 2015 to Saturday May 30, 2015
Kathmandu, Central Region, Nepal

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Nischal Oli

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Complex emergencies such as the one witnessed in the aftermath of 2010 earthquake in Haiti often result from a combination of natural and/or man-made hazards and pre-existing social, political, economic or infrastructure factors that cross-cut each other. They are characterised by extensive losses of life, property damage, displacement of populations, security risks, political and civil disturbances, and hindrances to humanitarian assistance. In short, complex emergencies typically involve multifaceted and multi-causal humanitarian crises that require coordinated international or national responses, which go beyond the mandate or capacity of a single agency.

Yet is it possible to protect cultural heritage under such circumstances? If yes, then when is the right time to intervene and who all can help? Seeking answers to these questions is the premise of ICCROM’s international training on First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis (FAC).

Offered within the framework of ICCROM’s multi-partner and international programme on Disaster Risk Management, FAC is aimed at strengthening national capacities for protecting cultural heritage during complex emergencies. It emphasizes cooperation and coordination with other mainstream emergency response actors, and identifies areas of joint programming between culture and humanitarian sectors. The aim is to ensure that the affected communities participate in their own cultural recovery, which in turn can become a driver for peace and holistic development.


Commonly used in the field of medicine, “first aid generally consists of some simple, often life- saving techniques that most people can be trained to perform with minimal equipment.”3 Drawing a parallel to this definition of first aid, ICCROM chose to use the term in reference to initial actions taken to secure and stabilize endangered cultural heritage4 during a complex emergency. Such situations demand protection measures that are easy to implement, and do not require sophisticated equipment or special conservation materials.


Within a disaster risk management plan, first aid would reside in the domain of emergency response. Yet unlike the humanitarian response where reaction time, such as the first 48 hours or 72 hours, is considered to be crucial for saving human lives, first aid to cultural heritage can be delayed until the basic relief support (e.g., food, water, shelter etc.) is in place. Regardless, rapid response can help contain damage to cultural heritage.

The main objectives for providing first aid to cultural heritage (both, tangible and intangible) in a complex emergency situation are to assess the damage caused, stabilize or secure heritage to prevent further damage or loss, and promote recovery.





A Cultural First Aider is a person who has the necessary knowledge and skills to document as well as protect cultural heritage during a complex emergency. She/he is:

- proactive yet sensitive to human needs,

- respectful of the local context,

- capable of building trust and understanding amongst people who have different views,

- able to develop and implement first aid operations for protecting cultural heritage in coordination with other relief agencies,

- able to constitute and manage teams, and

- capable of assessing and mitigating future risks in order to ensure early recovery.





The training session will be lead by an international team of experts, representing the International Council of Museums, Smithsonian Institution, International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness and International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties. 


Training will begin on the 27 of May, 2015 and will continue till the 30th. 


Venue/site of the training will be decided on the 26th of May when the facilitators have conducted their initial survey of cultural sites in Kathmandu. 


20-30 participants are being called to enlist. We are looking for young, energetic and motivated people who are familiar with cultural heritage of Nepal, can understand basic English, and possess one or more skills such as measuring spaces, ability to organize work in team, drawing, sketching, photography etc.. Students of architecture, structural/civil engineering, art history and fine arts are encourage to apply. We will be working with staff of museums, archaeology department, archives, libraries and public works department.


We expect to train participants who can then take part in salvage and storage operations at various sites and will also help in training others. 




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