Ecuador will carry out a broad program to protect and restore its cultural heritage with the help of a loan for $37.8 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The program, which will be carried out by the Ministry for Cultural Heritage Coordination, includes some 10 large demonstration projects and asset recovery initiatives in various cities in the country.
The country’s National Institute of Cultural Heritage estimates that Ecuador has some three million cultural heritage material assets, of which only 2.7 percent are registered.
This low level of registration hinders Ecuador’s efforts to protect, conserve and recover the country’s cultural wealth. Among assets lacking registration are more than 1.3 million pieces of art, 1.2 million archaeological artifacts, 40,000 pieces of real estate, 15,000 archaeological sites, 4,000 institutional files, 2,000 collections of documents, and 80 historical archives.
The IDB loan is expected to finance the registry of more than 300,000 cultural property assets over the next five years.
Registering and systematizing information on cultural heritage will help to improve the country’s ability to formulate public policies to support development. The preservation and restoration of the country’s cultural heritage is a priority area of work for the government, on a par with social and economic sectors.
The demonstration projects will be carried out in the municipalities of Zaruma-Portovelo (Zaruma is a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site candidate), in Santa Elena (the location of Valdivia, considered the cradle of Ecuadorian archeology) and in Puyo, which will serve as a model for the country’s Amazon region.