Development of a Strategic Framework to Manage and Develop Urban Cultural Heritage in South Asia Region

Commissioned by the urban development unit of South Asia region of the World Bank, this project investigated the outlying reasons for weak client demand and Bank involvement in the cultural heritage and tourism sector in the region and ways to increase the number of lending operations. In South Asia, since 1970s, the World Bank had engaged only in a handful of lending operations in historic cities, which had included small elements of conservation and promotion. We found out that while the region had been most involved in stand-alone cultural heritage projects, it is most effective to include cultural heritage as a component of larger urban infrastructure development and upgrading projects. In doing so, we suggested taking advantage of many synergies between conservation of the historic areas and revitalization of infrastructure, sanitation systems, and transport, collectively constituting a sound urban upgrading scheme. The project also included a portfolio review of projects in the region and concluded that the major theme of urban development initiatives in South Asia had been decentralization and local governance. Based on this observation the paper recommended that projects concerning the management of historic areas be included in this category since major institutional reforms and policy changes on a local level are needed for a sustainable historic area regeneration and cultural heritage conservation plan.