The APSARA National Authority (ANA) has announced a forthcoming boost in Cambodian experts in conservation of ancient temples. This comes following a two-year training course, due to conclude by mid-2024, provided to 20 ANA officials by Germany.

The ANA press release mentioned the efforts of experts from Germany's development agency GIZ in training the 20 Cambodian candidates. The trainees are to become specialists in preserving ancient stones at the Angkor site in Siem Reap province.

Helen Jacobsen, a German trainer, shared during a field visit that she has been teaching Cambodian trainees how to clean, neutralise salt and strengthen ancient stones.

Jacobsen informed ANA that the course includes vital skills such as water-based stone cleaning and chemical washing. The course comprises 13 separate programmes. So far, participants have completed seven, working tirelessly for over a year.

A statement from GIZ anticipates that by mid-2024, the second round of stone conservation training should conclude, resulting in an increased number of Cambodian conservationists.

Rik Reth, technical officer of the ANA's Department of Conservation of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology, said the two-year course is a collaborative effort between GIZ and his department.

"This training is very important. It will enable trainees to apply this knowledge to maintain and protect ancient temples in various places for the future, and they can also pass these skills on to the next generation of Cambodian conservationists," Reth said.

According to the ANA, in 2013 GIZ partnered with them to provide a training course on stone conservation of ancient temples.

The first generation of trainees became Cambodian experts, who are now applying their skills effectively at restoration sites.

ANA deputy director and spokesman Long Kosal told The Post that ANA officials were chosen to join each training session.

The result is a large number of Cambodian experts leading research projects in the Angkor area.

"The improved efficiency and expanding knowledge of our technical staff gives us greater hope for the future. Our successors are being trained accordingly, which will fortify our work," he said.

In November 2021, ANA and GIZ agreed to strengthen cooperation in boosting Cambodia's heritage restoration capacity. This was to be achieved through additional skill and ability building training for ANA officials.

German ambassador to Cambodia Christian Berger said at a discussion meeting that the restoration and preservation of the World Heritage site is a long-term task.

Berger assured that GIZ would continue to collaborate with ANA on temple restoration and preservation, particularly through capacity building training in addition to stone conservation.