With a history spanning over three centuries, Saint-Louis’s typical houses, system of quays, street layout, riverbank, and Faidherbe Bridge contribute to the city’s unique identity. The city was once the capital of Senegal and Mauritania and played a predominant cultural and economic role throughout West Africa. Since 2000, the Island of Saint-Louis (Senegal) has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage property.
The local population has an enduring ambiguous relationship with the city’s colonial-built heritage, due to the absence of endogenous cultural materials in the building construction and its links to memories of a period of enslavement. The growing importance of the economic role of heritage in Saint-Louis through tourism, however, has nurtured greater affirmation of the heritage amongst the local population who increasingly attach importance to its value as an economic resource. Tourism has provided the prospect of establishing a proactive public policy that combines conservation, heritage enhancement, involvement of the local communities and income generation. The heritage challenge concerning the conservation and development of the heritage of Saint-Louis is intertwined with that of inclusive economic development and hinges on the optimal use of resources and development potential of the city's heritage sites. Capacity-building has been an important part in the heritage conservation policy led by the State and municipality with the support of technical and financial partners to create a larger group of technicians capable of addressing conservation needs at the property. As part of the rehabilitation of the territorial assembly by the Walloon Region (2002-2008) a ‘field school’ helped to reclassify over 30 workers and technicians in heritage skills (lime, masonry, painting, roofing, carpentry, ironwork, treatment of termites, design and monitoring of restoration projects). A second initiative, implemented by the Spanish Cooperation, trained almost 100 young people in heritage skills over a two-year period. As a result of the youth rehabilitation programme, some young people have started businesses and others have found jobs in local businesses.
Source: Arterial Network, report for Study Area 1