During its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006), the World Heritage Committee had noted with concern the potential negative impact of coastal and marine erosion on the Island of Gorée. In the report submitted to the World Heritage Centre on 15 March 2007, the State Party informed the World Heritage Centre that the following activities had been undertaken at the property to improve its state of conservation:
a) Restoration and rehabilitation
Together with development cooperation partners (World Bank), an amount of 205 million CFA Francs had been allocated in 2006 for rehabilitation and the equipping of a medical block and socio-cultural centre. Moreover, in 2007, the rehabilitation of the ancient Roume Palace or Relais de l’Espadon, the Ancient House of Sudan and the Headquarters of the ex-University des Mutants is foreseen with the support of the Presidence of the Republic
b) Appointment of a site manager
The Minister for Culture passed a decree n° 00 6260/MCPHC/DPC/DIR/oke dated 14/09/2006 concerning the creation of posts for managers of Senegal’s World Heritage properties. The Deputy Conservator of the House of Slaves who has over twenty years of experience in the field of conservation, and who has followed the Programme Africa 2009 regarding the management and conservation of African cultural built heritage, will be nominated to the post for the Island of Gorée.
c) Management of populations and tourists
A constant stream of visitors from across the world, and an increase in the number of visiting Senegalese school pupils in the framework of school outings was noted in 2006. This flow of visitors is not without consequences on the daily management of the site, with the appearance on the Island of illegal souks for commercial purposes as well as restaurants. The situation has therefore led the Municipality of Gorée to introduce a standby medical service, which includes: a Municipal dispensary comprising a maternity ward with a resident midwife, the Order of Malta Dispensary; and a fast ambulance motorboat service for emergency evacuations. A Police Station and a firefighter unit have also been set up. Furthermore, to contribute towards the accessibility of the Island, the State Party in its report informed of the acquisition of a new boat which will ensure the Dakar/Gorée maritime liaison. In order to better observe the standards decreed in the framework of the World Heritage Convention, the Minister for Culture decided to instigate a short-term consultation between the different stakeholders (Ministry for Culture and Listed Historic Heritage, Mayor of Gorée, UNESCO Dakar Office, public and private institutions installed in Gorée, Syndicate of Initiative and Tourism, Dakar/Gorée Maritime Liaison, schools and representatives of the public, etc.)
d) Illegal occupation of the Castel
Tourism development has also been the cause of illegal occupation, along the entire length of the Artillery Cart Track. In places, wooden shacks built by squatters can be observed, despite the summons issued by the Cultural Heritage Directorate. This situation, which resembles a tentative to transform the Castel into a shanty town will, if one is not vigilant, cause the deterioration of the site. According to the State Party, this situation is being evaluated and requires the support of the World Heritage Committee to raise awareness among the different stakeholders in order to reach a satisfactory solution. The report further indicates that due to the transfer of some responsibilities to the communities, the Mayor of Gorée was invited to apply the regulations in force in order to correct this situation.
e) Replica of the Gorée Memorial
Whilst reiterating its willingness to implement the corrective measures to limit the negative impact of the replica of the Gorée Memorial on the property, the State Party wished to have the final opinion of the World Heritage Committee on the desirability of retaining this replica of the Gorée Memorial.
ICOMOS has studied the request of the State Party based on the previous decisions of the Committee and the report of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission of 2004. During its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004), the Committee invited the State Party to undertake corrective measures. After reviewing the different options possible, ICOMOS considered that whatever reliable interventions be undertaken, this would not significantly reduce the impact of this Memorial that has since acquired high symbolic value.
f) Marine erosion
Following initial exchanges and tripartite discussions between UNESCO, the Ministry for Culture of Senegal and the Qatar Foundation, a joint UNESCO/Senegalese Culture and Education Sector meeting was held in Doha, Qatar on 6 and 7 September 2006, to meet officials of the Qatar Foundation and to discuss the Project and the modalities for the execution of its two phases: coastal protection and capacity building in the fields of conservation and heritage protection through the technical and professional training of the Island’s inhabitants. Following this, UNESCO specialists and Qatar Foundation experts carried out a mission to Senegal and the Island of Gorée from 18 to 23 September 2006 to continue discussions regarding cooperation and to develop concrete proposals in support of an improved management of the Island of Gorée. Monitoring of the bilateral project envisaged between Senegal and the Qatar Foundation to combat erosion of the littoral of Gorée will be carried out by UNESCO. The main objectives contained in the project document for the safeguarding of the Island of Gorée of Senegal, property inscribed on the World Heritage List are:
(i) The establishment of a unit responsible for project management ;
(ii) Rehabilitation of selected historic buildings;
(iii) Management and presentation of the environment ; and
(iv) Education and professional training and capacity building in the field of conservation and heritage protection.
The total cost of the project, is estimated at USD 4,385,530, to be funded by the Qatar Foundation in the framework of Funds-in-Trust to cover all external and local expenses linked to the rehabilitation of the buildings and professional training activities and community training.