1.         Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons) (Mali) (C/N 516)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1989

Criteria  (v)(vii)

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/516/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1988-2011)
Total amount approved: USD 98,640
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/516/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/516/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

The state of conservation report submitted by the State Party on 6 April 2013 highlights the site management problems and constraints due to the armed conflict that has affected the northern regions of Mali as from April 2012.  Amongst these constraints are the shutdown of cultural tourism which is one of the most important sources of income for local communities, the decline of cultural identities linked to the presence of armed groups and the resurgence of the phenomenon of trafficking and the illegal sale of cultural items.

To these must be added the suspension of financial resources allocated from the national budget to the Cultural Mission of Bandiagara (MCB), due to the crisis caused by the occupation of the northern regions.

In addition, the northern part of the Land of the Dogons was affected by the armed conflict, with the destruction of the Great Toguna in the city of Douenza. This area is located outside the perimeter inscribed on the World Heritage List. Fortunately the inscribed perimeter has suffered no physical damage.

a)   Protection and conservation actions carried out by the MCB during the crisis

Despite the crisis and the closure of most State technical services on the site, the MCB has continued the implementation of its flagship projects, including the restoration project of the village of Banani Ammou, with a strong involvement of local communities. This project was co-funded by the World Monuments Fund and the World Heritage Centre, in collaboration with CRAterre. It has been fully implemented.

The MCB has also conducted awareness-raising activities for the protection of cultural properties. It also made an assessment of the conservation status of the items of the three local museums at the site and an assessment of risks of illegal traffic.

With the financial support of GIZ (German Development Cooperation), the MCB subsequently organized a day of reflexion with the cultural and tourism stakeholders on the socio-economic impacts and attitudes to adopt with regard to Mali’s security and socio-political crisis. This day culminated in a series of recommendations aiming to minimize the impact of the crisis.

Finally, the MCB has prepared a file for the nomination of the site to the "2014 World Monuments Watch List”, in order to obtain additional funding to implement conservation and management activities.

b)   Threats

According to the report, the site is subject to changes due to socio-economic phenomena (exoders, schooling, infrastructure development), human activities and environmental degradation (climate change, demographic pressure). Some intangible cultural practices are mutating due to contact with other imported values (religions, cultural tourism ...).

The report notes that the social, cultural and religious traditions of the Dogons are still relatively well-preserved despite pressure from armed groups and the effects of induced changes of global development. The villages and inhabitants retain ancestral values linked to an original lifestyle. The harmonious integration of cultural elements (architectures) with the natural landscape has undergone few changes even though new infrastructures and facilities are developing on the site.

The report emphasizes that the property remains vulnerable although its values have not been greatly affected by the situation of crisis and armed conflict faced by the country.  Management is still effective with the local management approach initiated by the Cultural Mission in collaboration with the World Heritage Centre and other technical and financial partners.

c)   Measures to be taken to contribute to the sustainable conservation of the property

The report proposes the following measures to mitigate the threats caused by the crisis in Mali:

• The implementation of a comprehensive information, awareness-raising and education campaign to protect the diversity of cultural expressions and the authenticity of intangible values (religious traditions, ritualistic events or festive cultural events). Workshops shall also be organised for capacity building of local communities and developers to take into account the heritage dimension in local development projects and programmes.

• The evaluation and implementation of the 2006–2010 management and conservation plan of the site, to adapt it to the socio-political and economic developments being experienced by the local communities.

• The implementation of rehabilitation and restoration projects for significant sites and monuments, and land settlement projects to improve the living conditions of local communities.

d)   Progress in implementing the decisions of the World Heritage Committee

From 8 to 10 April 2013, in Bamako, the State Party held a training workshop on the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property thanks to emergency funds mobilized by the Director-General of UNESCO. This workshop was attended by thirty participants from Mali and six neighbouring countries, including police officers, customs and Gendarmerie agents.

e) Actions taken by UNESCO for the protection of the property

(See the report on the state of conservation of Timbuktu (C119) at https://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/1865 )

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that despite the crisis in the northern regions of Mali and the proximity of the Land of the Dogons near areas of armed conflict, the perimeter of the Bandiagara Cliffs inscribed on the World Heritage List has suffered no physical damage, and thus its integrity, authenticity and Outstanding Universal Value remain intact.

However, the northern part of the Land of the Dogons was affected, with the destruction of the Great Toguna of the city of Douenza.

In addition, because of the crisis, problems and constraints have emerged, such as the shutdown of cultural tourism which is one of the most important sources of income for local communities, the decline of cultural identities linked to the crisis, and the resurgence of the phenomenon of trafficking and the illicit sale of cultural items

Faced with this situation, the Cultural Mission of Bandiagara was able to take action for the protection, awareness-raising and conservation of the site, despite the suspension of financial resources from the State and the closing of technical services on the site.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note with satisfaction the efforts made by the MCB, and welcome the measures it proposes to contribute to the sustainable conservation of the Cliffs of Bandiagara. They confirm the need for the Committee to support these measures and are at the disposal of the State Party to provide their expertise.

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 7B.34

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Commends the State Party for its efforts in the protection and conservation of the property in the difficult context of armed conflict in the northern regions of Mali;

3.  Expresses its concern about the problems arising from the crisis and linked to the shutdown of cultural tourism which is one of the most important sources of income for local communities, the decline of cultural identities due to the crisis, and the resurgence of the phenomenon of illicit trafficking and sale of cultural property;

4.  Thanks the Director-General of UNESCO for her efforts to respond to Decisions 36 COM 7B.106 and 36 COM 7B.107, notably through the creation of a special account for the safeguarding of Malian cultural heritage and awareness-raising of the international community;

5.  Also thanks France, Mali and UNESCO to have organized a day of solidarity for Mali during which an international meeting of experts was held and resulted in the adoption of an Action Plan for the rehabilitation of the cultural heritage and ancient manuscripts of Mali;

6.  Further thanks the UNESCO experts group on Mali consisting of the Advisory Bodies (ICOMOS, ICCROM), the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), the School of African Heritage (EPA), the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF) and the International Centre for Earthen Architecture (CRAterre-ENSAG) in Grenoble for having contributed to the development of the action plan in close collaboration with the Malian and French experts;

7.  Appeals to States Parties to the World Heritage Convention , the African Union, the European Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), other African organizations and the entire international community to contribute to the implementation of the action plan for the rehabilitation of the cultural heritage and ancient manuscripts of Mali;

8.  Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, a detailed report on the State of conservation of the Bandiagara Cliffs (Dogon Country). Property and especially on progress made in the preservation of their Outstanding Universal Value, for consideration by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.