In response to Decision 32 COM 7B.50, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, on 22 March 2010. This report provides information of progress achieved in the fields of management and conservation, and makes particular mention of the following activities:
a) State of conservation of architectural heritage
The report noted that the property continued to suffer changes as regards its buildings. As already emphasized in its 2008 report, the recent report again indicates that the reason for these changes is essentially due to the modification of the original plans of the houses because of new needs for comfort and the increase in the size of some family cells, the escalation in cost of the materials used for traditional livelihood (rice and millet, baobab fruit, shea butter), to the introduction of inappropriate solutions using cement and terra cotta, the abandonment of numerous buildings that have fallen into ruin, and the appearance of new constructions in the inscribed periphery. In the face of these changes, the Cultural Mission has questioned the contraveners and called upon the cooperation of the municipal and administrative authorities. But clearly, and according to the report, the involvement of these bodies is not yet fully secured for the task of protection assigned to the Cultural Mission of Djenné. The report also indicates efforts of collaboration with actors such as the corporation of masons « Barey Ton », the Djenne Heritage Association, the Association of Guides, the customary authorities and opinion leaders. Exemplary restoration has been carried out in 2009-2010. The Djenné Mosque has been restored in the framework of a Programme for the rehabilitation of Earthen Architecture, established between the Mali Ministry of Culture and the Aga Khan Foundation for Culture.
In the framework of the World Heritage Earthen Architecture Programme, a number of activities is also being implemented since January 2010 at Djenné including a rehabilitation project for the Youth House, financed by the Government of Italy, and the preparation of town planning and construction regulations adapted to earthen architecture. This project will enable the production of a technical guide for the rehabilitation of earthen architecture to assist in the control of interventions at the property and in its buffer zone.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note the absence of clear working tools (town planning and construction regulations) to control the growth of new constructions and poor rehabilitation in the property, despite the positive initiatives of the State Party. As already mentioned in previous Committee reports, if these tools are not made available very rapidly, these changes will most certainly compromise the coherence of the urban fabric of Djenné. While applauding the support and intervention of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in the restoration of the Mosque, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, would nevertheless welcome assurance that major restoration projects will be based on adequate documentation, a clear shared understanding of conservation approaches, and respect for traditional conservation practices. They also consider that all major projects should be tied into the management plan and respect its priorities.
b) State of conservation of archaeological sites
The report mentions a topographical survey of the archaeological sites, carried out in January 2008. This survey provides different information regarding the areas of the various sites, in comparison to that communicated at the time of inscription in 1988. The site of Hambarketelo was originally estimated at 9.24 ha is now estimated at 4 ha. That of Kaniana on the other hand is reduced from 28 ha to 22 ha. The site of Tonomba, initially estimated at 2 ha, is in reality only 1.23 ha. According to the report, these differences are justified by natural and anthropic factors such as the use of some parts as crop growing areas or rubbish dumps (Kaniana), gullying and erosion by bad weather (Djenne Djeno, Hambarketelo and Kaniana), and the destruction of some stony cordons that were installed in 1996. In particular, the report indicated the threats that weigh on the integrity of Tonomba: the construction of a building for the future Police Commissariat, the presence of a farm pond, and a market gardening strip, and the use of the site as a quarry for the manufacture of earthen bricks to maintain the houses. Currently, only the site of Djenne Djeno has benefited from protection actions provided by the Cultural Mission of Djenné. Indeed, a guardian is now posted at the site, and trees have been planted to restore the hedge around the site. With regard to the issue of looting, financial assistance provided by the United States, through the Ambassadors’ Fund for Cultural Heritage Preservation, has enabled the organization of a series of training and awareness raising activities for the elected members of the twelve municipalities around Djenné as well as the guides, on the need to combat looting of the archaeological sites.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies emphasize the danger that the construction of a new building on the archaeological site of Tonomba would constitute, altering the integrity of this site. They also recall that the archaeological sites contribute to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. It is therefore recommended that the State Party seek an alternative location for the new building for the Police Commissariat. Finally, it is recommended that the State Party inform the Committee on the revision of the boundaries of the archaeological sites following the topographical surveys of January 2008.
c) Waste disposal problems
The report notes that waste disposal problems remain a tricky issue to resolve, in view of the considerable increase in the quantity of solid and liquid waste posing serious environmental problems. The banks of the River Bani surrounding the town are increasingly transformed into a dump for solid rubbish and an outlet for waste water, causing numerous environmental problems, including degradation of the water quality of the Bani and the proliferation of waterborne diseases. According to the report, efforts have been made to resolve the problem of the evacuation of domestic waste water with the assistance of the Service responsible for waste disposal as well as pollution and nuisance control. Initiatives have also been undertaken in the framework of the Niger-Loire Project for the establishment of a transit rubbish tip for solid waste on the northern periphery of the property. A larger project is also under preparation in the framework of a One-UN project that would also involve three other agencies of the United Nations system, (UNDP, WHO, UNICEF).
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider it extremely urgent to find appropriate solutions for the waste disposal problems present at the property.
d) Management plan
The 2008-2009 management and conservation plan prepared by the National Direction for Cultural Heritage, was completed and submitted to the World Heritage Centre in October 2008. This management plan aims at encouraging the establishment of an integrated conservation and management system involving the living site (the town of Djenné itself) and the archaeological sites, promotion of expertise and local know-how of the populations in the field of conservation of earthen architecture, improvement of tourism and continued efforts for the revitalisation of the ensemble of the ancient fabric.