The U.S. Department of State is awarding a nearly $190,000 grant to the Ifker Association for Environmental Education and Sustainable Development, a Moroccan NGO based in the Fes-Meknes region, for a community-based project to conserve and restore a collection of mosaics in Volubilis. The largest and most famous archeological site in Morocco, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997, Volubilis is home to dozens of unique mosaic panels.
Under the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, a State Department program managed in Morocco by the U.S. Embassy in Rabat, the Ifker Association will restore the mosaics and present them to the public. The association will also organize education and outreach programs emphasizing their importance for Moroccan cultural heritage. The project will build upon Ifker’s existing partnership with the U.S. Getty Conservation Institute, which will provide technical expertise and training.
With this grant, the State Department has awarded more than $1 million in the past 20 years to 12 organizations in Morocco focused on preserving important cultural heritage sites.
“Volubilis is the crown jewel of Moroccan heritage sites, and we are proud to partner with the Ifker Association, the Getty Conservation Institute and the Ministry of Culture to help restore these historic mosaics and support jobs training, and educational and outreach programs for the local community,” said U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Lawrence Randolph. “As we celebrate the bicentennial of the Tangier Legation this year – our first diplomatic mission in Morocco – and 200 years of friendship between the United States and Morocco, the Volubilis project is yet another excellent example of our strong cultural ties.”
“This project will contribute to the economic and social development of the Zerhoun Massif area,” said Zoubir Chattou, President of Ifker Association. “Our association, which works closely with local populations, aims, through this project, to revive tourism opportunities post-COVID-19, generate jobs and participate in strengthening the economic and cultural attractiveness of the region.”
Ifker will involve youth and workers from the local community in the restoration process by providing them skills training meant to build livelihoods in historic preservation and tourism. An exhibit of the restored mosaics will be a draw for both Moroccan and international visitors to Volubilis.
The Ifker grant is the first since the United States and Morocco signed a cultural property agreement on January 14, 2021, committing to work together to fight the pillage of cultural property and to strengthen partnerships in cultural property protection.