Zanzibar, 29 July 2009 - The US$ 2.4 million restoration of Forodhani Park in Zanzibar’s Historic Stone Town has been completed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC).
The revitalisation project has transformed the heavily used park – one of the last open spaces in this densely populated World Heritage Site – and upgraded social and recreational amenities in the historic Park. Works included the restoration of the walkways, landscape improvements, infrastructure upgrading including lighting, sewage, drainage and civic amenities and the rehabilitation of the seawall fronting the Park.
The Park, once the location of the main port and a landing point for the former Sultans of Zanzibar has remained a central meeting place for civic discourse, leisure and entertainment.
In the last decade, stresses caused by the popularity of the Park took a toll. It was clear that an important part of the patrimony of Stone Town was in need of revitalisation. The rehabilitation project was first proposed by the Trust in 2001 as part of a programme for comprehensive seafront rehabilitation in Stone Town. It was intended to be a logical extension of the work already completed by AKTC in Kelele Square. Following meetings between President Amani Abeid Karume and His Highness the Aga Khan, agreements for the restoration of the Park were signed.
The Trust has been active in Zanzibar since 1989, successfully completing the restoration of the Old Dispensary, now renamed the Stone Town Cultural Centre, and the old Customs House, as well as the rehabilitation of Kelele Square. Eleven buildings in Stone Town – many of them on the point of collapse – were restored as part of a programme to show the building and restoration techniques needed to preserve this World Heritage Site. The Trust has also worked with the Government and international partners – such as the Government of Sweden and the Ford Foundation – to provide training workshops on conservation practice and traditional construction methods for craftsmen, building professionals and Government officers.
The creation of an Indian Ocean Maritime Museum is also proposed. The Museum will showcase the maritime cultures of the Indian Ocean, including the display of naval vessels and other artefacts that illustrate the history of the commercial and cultural contacts between Africa, the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent.
The restoration of Forodhani Park is intended to be part of a larger seafront rehabilitation programme, encompassing: construction of the seawall; underground infrastructure including water, storm and sewer lines; and, the creation of a pedestrian promenade, including planting, street lighting and street furniture along the sea side.
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The Aga Khan Trust for Culture is a part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). Over the last 20 years, cultural revitalisation efforts have been carefully integrated into the broader economic and social programmes of the AKDN – reflecting His Highness the Aga Khan’s belief that development is a complex process that requires multiple inputs.
AKDN’s development work in Zanzibar dates to the signing of a Protocol of Co-operation for Development between the Network and the Government of Zanzibar in 1988. In Zanzibar, AKDN’s efforts include the Rahaleo Health Centre, which records over 16,000 patient visits per year. The Aga Khan Foundation continues to operate a number of programmes in education, training and health, including support for pre-schools on Zanzibar and Pemba, an educational Resource Centre and the training of hundreds of teachers. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development restored and converted historic seafront buildings into the Zanzibar Serena Inn.