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ACP Street Libraries

The ACP Street Library project aims to further develop a cultural activity already implemented in African countries, the Street Libraries, by reinforcing the existing actions and by creating the conditions to leverage and expand this concept to more African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) countries. 

Within this project, the intention rests upon the creation of a set of actions, services and features that will allow actual and future cultural entrepreneurs, NGOs and private and public institutions, to leverage Street Libraries in ACP Countries, developing this cultural action at regional, national and international levels as well as maximize its impact on local populations, especially in children and young people.

The three countries involved in the project - Cameroon, Ghana and Liberia - have rich and diverse cultural traditions, but artists and cultural entrepreneurs have limited means for distributing culture. For example, in Ghana, as part of the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the government recognized the need for increased means of distribution of arts by agreeing to create avenues for distribution of art, exhibitions, and live performances. The Ghana Book Trust developed a book distribution program in order to promote a greater access to books and culture. Artists in Cameroon may receive support for performances from the government, and UNESCO is funding a project to catalogue audio-visual materials. In Liberia, artists have expressed the need for more means of distributing cultural materials as well as more government/sponsor support. It is estimated that more than 45% of youth are illiterate. Even in countries where the government or sponsors provide support for exhibitions or performances, these events happen for a short period of time and are often not accessible to people living in rural areas. In addition to a lack of access to cultural materials, low means of distribution also have an economic impact on artists and cultural entrepreneurs.

This project proposes to address access to literary culture, visual arts, and music through mobile telephony. The date from World Bank 2011 data suggests large mobile phone penetration for the selected countries ( 41% in Liberia, 53% in Cameroon, and over 85% in Ghana). This offers the potential of a decentralized and entrepreneurial approach for the distribution of cultural materials using mobile telephones in street libraries.

The main objective of the ACP Street Library project is to contribute to the development of culture in ACP countries mainly by promoting the creation of new Street Libraries and the modernization of existing ones. The partners of involved in the project - Microsoft MLDC, VPWA (NGO), ASRAD - Appui Solidaire Pour Le Renforcement De L'aide Au Developpement and YCWL - Youth Crime Watch of Liberia - plan to develop a set of activities related with the ACP Cultural sector promotion and consolidation, mainly by encouraging the preservation of local cultures that are currently only transmitted in oral format.

There are four specific objectives associated to the project implementation, namely: Increase the number of ACP Street Libraries, Increase the number of books available for oral reading in ACP Street Libraries, Improve existing databases of ACP countries local culture and Improve ACP countries discussion and cooperation platforms.

The key stakeholders of the project will be the actual and future cultural entrepreneurs who will benefit from the project and gain the opportunity to promote and disseminate their artistic work. NGOs,private and public institutions will also benefit from the project by building the necessary capacity to create new Street Libraries and cultural projects, as well as the universities and research centers who will benefit from the new project results by promoting technology transfer to the local students. Most importantly, the local population will largely benefit from the implementation of this project. Children and young people of ACP countries will have access to more cultural resources and will be able to preserve their history and local legends for generations to come.

 

With the Financial contribution of the European Union (European Development Fund) and the assistance of the ACP Group of States.