1.         M'Zab Valley (Algeria) (C 188)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1982

Criteria  (ii)(iii)(v)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/188/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2001-2002)
Total amount approved: USD 60,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/188/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/188/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2004

Intense development linked to socio-economic changes threatens the historic ksour of the M'Zab Valley.  Several new houses have been built in areas that are not suitable for construction, such as the palm groves or the bed of the oued.  Rain water has already caused damage. Furthermore, buildings erected on the hills surrounding the town cause a strong visual impact. No appropriate legislation exists for urban control in the non-constructible areas. Moreover, the knowledge of traditional materials for the rehabilitation of the vernacular architecture, as well as for the traditional system for the management and distribution of water, is being lost.


The World Heritage Centre, in close cooperation with the State Party, organised a reactive monitoring mission from 2 to 11 December 2003, coordinated with an expert mission, to the M'Zab Valley under technical assistance approved by the World Heritage Committee on 29 June 2002, regarding the listing of the Valley as a Safeguarded Sector.  The dossier for the listing of the M'Zab Valley as a Safeguarded Sector was prepared by the Office for the Protection and Promotion of the M'Zab Valley (OPVM) in 2003, in accordance with the Law 98-04 concerning heritage protection.


On 5 April 2004, the OPVM obtained the final agreement of the concerned National Commission, for the creation of a safeguarded sector for the M'Zab Valley.  The Ministry of Housing envisages the safeguarded sector as a cultural park covering also towns outside the Valley, more than 70 kms distant.  The next step for the creation of the safeguarded sector requires the four ministries concerned (Environment, Interior, Finance, Housing) to reach a consensus.


The listing would permit the Algerian authorities to preserve the landscape value of the property and the contrast between the built and non-built areas.  The restoration of the management of the hydraulic network, at present badly maintained, is also one of the priorities to ensure the preservation of the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage property.


The organization of an inter-ministerial meeting on the theme of safeguarded sectors is envisaged to promote collaboration between the national and local authorities in order to coordinate all the activities for the safeguarding and development of the future safeguarded section of the M'Zab Valley.  Separate and apart from this step, the Algerian Government has carried out a very dynamic restoration policy of the principal monuments and the rehabilitation of vernacular architecture of the ksour. This action is directed by the Office for the Protection and Promotion of the M'Zab Valley in cooperation with the population and the different State services.  With regard to new operations, the creation of new areas inspired by the ancient ksour should be noted.  These projects constitute an appreciable alternative to the lack of urban planning.


On the other hand, the OPVM constitutes and disposes of very extensive documentation which allows it to carry out ongoing awareness-raising and training activities. The OPVM is responsible for:


a)  the execution of legislation in force concerning listed heritage;


b)  the wide use of local architectural design as a source of inspiration and reference in the creation of new buildings and urban development;


c)  the exploitation of research carried out in the field of urban fabric and local building materials;


d)  the creation of a data bank for historic and natural sites, the promotion of research and exploitation of archaeological sites;


e)  the support and promotion of local artisan activities;


f)  providing technical advice concerning all new construction or development operations.


Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM


Decision Adopted: 28 COM 15B.44

The World Heritage Committee, 1. Requests the State Party to proceed with the listing of the M'Zab Valley as a safeguarded sector and to elaborate a Plan for the Safeguarding and Presentation of this sector; 2. Strongly urges the State Party to restore the hydraulic network to preserve the historic value of the water management system with a view to sustainable development. 3. Calls upon the State Party to undertake appropriate measures, notably with regard to the designation of non-constructible areas, for the protection of the urban and landscape qualities of the property. 4. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Committee, by 1 February 2006, a report on the implementation of the above-mentioned activities, for examination by the Committee at its 30th session in 2006.