Historic Preservation
Problems of conservation in developing countries
What are the common problems of conservation and restoration in developing countries?

Do you think that it's only an economical problem? Does the local culture of citizens also play an important role?
Muneer Elbaz
Problems of conservation in developing countries
Muneer, conservation and restoration in developing countries have two problems: (a) Lack of resources, and (b) Lack of interest.

The lack of resources can be overcome by international eco-tourism and lack of interest can be overcome by showing that eco-tourism will create employment for local people.

The lack of interest in conserving and restoring things from the past comes from Global TV Media which glamourises affluent lifstyles in other countries, so many traditional and cultural ways are held in contempt and abandoned.

Once traditional skills die out because the young only want modern things then future generations lose their culture and become alienated and antisocial.

Alienation and antisocial behaviour are what globalisation offers to the world. Accepting the ideology of materialism means you sell your soul for money.
Frank John Snelling
Problems of conservation in developing countries
I would add another point#c. Lack of awareness of the assets and their value.
The point #b. lack of willingness and the lack of awareness together make a fatal combination which lets bad things happen to our heritage: cultural, art or architectural. It becomes real pain to see the people with lots of apprehensions about conservation/preservation activities.

P Das
Problems of conservation in developing countries
Dear Muneer,

I am a conservation architect and I would like to share my views with you.

First, there is no standard answer for problems in conservation in countries like India. Lack of funds is a big problem but a bigger problem is the lack of acknowledgement of the wide range of heritage we have. The primary view of heritage is monument-centric, where only grand structures are sought to be 'preserved' that have good 'visual' value. This is primarily the western approach. But, we also have living traditions that reflect in our buildings. These also need to be looked at.

Probably the biggest problem is that conservation is equated with 'no change'. Conservation is 'management of change' as per one's values, about maintenance of these values and lessons learnt from history. It can even reflect in a new construction, if you learn your lessons well and apply them. But, this is largely not understood.

I disagree with the point raised by others - about lack of interest. This attitude is limited only to officialdom and urban masses. Or, even if they show any interest, it is to get some mileage out of such works. Working in rural areas is a very pleasant experience, where everyone pitches in to help and is willing to take care of their assets. But, to overcome these problems, it is essential to start at local and not the international level, by building capacity, raising awareness and providing technical training. After all, what may be of value to you and me (which is what heritage means - something that we wish to pass on to future generations) may not be of value to another.
Shubhru Gupta
Problems of conservation in developing countries
Dear Shubhru,

The lack of interest can be witnessed in rural areas as well. This is perhaps because the people out there might not be having a broader picture that helps them understand the importance of 'living tradition' as you say.

I am not a conservation architect, but am carrying some experiences of rural lack-of-interest in people of a region who are tending to give up their extraordinary heritage for more immediate interests by underestimating their importance.

Moreover, unless we start appreciating the efforts made at any both the rural and urban level for conservation ventures (rather than merely perceiving them as 'attempts to get mileage), people will not dare!
P Das
Problems of conservation in developing countries

Well, I don't have much of an idea about 'developing countries' in general, but when we talk about India, the situation is different!

Yes, the primary question is that conserving legacy is not the primary issue for the general Indian population.

This is not just because of pure economic reasons, there are psychological reasons too. The abundance of heritage structures through the length and breadth of the country is a natural outcome of the rich history of India. Whereas for the West, the importance of heritage may be echoed by the sheer lack of them.
Vidhu Saxena
Problems of conservation in developing countries
my forum topic
Aamir Shaikh


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