At the time of the writing of this report, the State Party has yet not submitted the state of conservation plan requested by the World Heritage Committee.
At its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008), the World Heritage Committee requested a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to assist the State Party in developing the previously requested Statement of outstanding universal value, including the conditions of integrity and authenticity, and in exploring how to ensure that the site’s management plan can function as the key, central co-ordinating mechanism in managing the property, and finally to assess the progress made in improving the state of conservation of the property.
This mission took place from 2-9 March 2009. Its report notes the following main outcomes in site conservation since the previous mission, 9 months earlier:
a) An improved state of conservation through systematic consolidation of monumental structures at Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara;
b) An improved participation by local stakeholders in property management through the already established “Ruins Committees”;
c) An improved understanding of the management plan as a guiding document for targeted action on-site;
d) An increase in visitation that opens up possibilities for more sustainable operations at the site;
e) Significant impacts of international donor aid and actions on site, and potential for their renewal and extension.
The mission also provided recommendations in the following areas:
Statement of outstanding universal value
A workshop on outstanding universal value took place inDar es Salaam from 2 to 4 March 2009, organized by the World HeritageCentre in cooperation with the Department of Antiquities. The Statement of outstanding universal value for the property agreed upon during this workshop will be forwarded to the World Heritage Centre after review by stakeholders at national level.
Delineation of boundaries of the property and the buffer zones
At present, the property and the buffer zones are undefined, and land uses and inhabitants not documented. The mission recommends however looking beyond a possible delineation of the property and buffer zones as contiguous entities, but rather to defining key monumental structures with their adjacent spaces as a series of small cores embedded in a larger conservation zone. The Antiquities Act provides for the establishment of such zones by bylaw. This approach to zoning should identify current land use, and the extent of permitted change. The mission notes that the conservation zones could also be defined to include visual axes to be respected, or important intangible heritage to be respected, e.g. ancient traditions and functions. The mission also notes that this comprehensive mapping is a matter of urgency.
Conservation of monuments
The mission reported that the state of conservation of the monumental structures at Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara was encouraging, and that currently 25% of the monumental structures have been successfully stabilized.
In Kilwa Kisiwani, the Gereza has to a great extent been consolidated under a Norway Funds-in-Trust arrangement, which will be continued and finalized under a cooperation scheme with the World Monuments Fund. The situation is the same for the Great Mosque and Great House, the Small Domed Mosque, and the Husuni Kubwa, while a major clean up was underway at Husuni Ndogo. Structures still needing urgent attention include the Makutani Palace complex, Malindi Mosque, and the Tombs of the Kilwa Sultans.
In Songo Mnara, the mission noted that large sections of the property have been cleared of destructive vegetation, especially at the most important buildings. Although it is noted that stabilization of structures has not advanced as far as at Kilwa Kisiwani, the Sultan’s Palace and adjoining house, as well as the Mosque, have already been successfully stabilized and to a limited extent restored. The mission noted excellent repair work on the reconstruction of deteriorated or lost niches, arches and decoration details at the Sultan’s Palace, and that 30 people have received job training as part of the programme initiated by the French Government. The mission further suggested that the stabilization of all remaining structures, itself an enormous task, was perhaps neither feasible nor necessary. The mission suggested exploring the possibility of identifying and stabilizing the main architectural and urban spatial typologies.
The mission notes that, in addition to the expenditure of USD 200,000 made thus far, an additional amount of USD 400,000 would be required over a 5-year period in order to meet the World Heritage Committee’s target of 70% stabilization as per the Desired state of conservation. The mission notes that this seems achievable given the possible interest of new donors in continuing the works.
Concerning beach erosion at Kilwa Kisiwani, the mission also noted that this is critical in four locations only: the Gereza and its wider setting, Malindi Mosque, Husuni Kubwa and the on-the-beach structure of the Makutani Palace where very urgent shoring is needed.
In this case, the mission recommends low-cost and straightforward solutions, such as rows of wooden poles in the water to dampen wave action and currents, with gabion walls at the beach and terraced cliff sides behind, as opposed to complex and full-blown engineering works. While each of these low-cost solutions requires research, including measuring impacts on the bio-physical environment and on the outstanding universal value of the property, such an approach would allow for the use of local labour, require limited investment and phased implementation capable of monitoring, for any necessary in-process adjustment.
Concerning site encroachment, the mission noted only a few such instances on the site.
The mission reviewed implementation of the management plan, and considers that its effectiveness could be enhanced by accompanying it with annual action plans to guide the site manager’s annual operations, while helping synchronize and integrate donor-funded projects. The mission also noted the importance of regular coordination meetings among key stakeholders, i.e. the Department of Antiquities, the Kilwa Cultural Centre and the local community residing on the islands, to ensure the management system brings greater coherence to the protection of the wider setting of the sites.
As regards a possible extension of the property, the mission noted the inclusion of Sanje Ya Kati and the specified Omani component of Kilwa Kivinje, in order to more fully represent the fullest spectrum of representation of Swahili settlement, trade and cultural achievement in this region, from its origins to eventual submergence into a short-lived German colonial epoch. However, the town of Kilwa Kivinje is impoverished and there is serious deterioration of its heritage, and any preparation of this site for inclusion on the World Heritage List will be long. In this context, so as not to preclude the possibility of future nomination, the mission proposes providing possible assistance to undertake the stabilization of some structures, and to set up appropriate management structures.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies feel progress has been made by the State Party, working in close collaboration with the World Heritage Centre and international donors, in improving the state of conservation of the property:
a) Preparation of a draft Statement of outstanding universal value for the property at a workshop in March 2009, now being reviewed by local and national stakeholders;
b) Proposals generated during the joint reactive monitoring mission of March 2009 to establish a new approach to delineating the boundaries of the property and its buffer zones, using the provisions of the Antiquities Act which provide for conservation zones being established surrounding monumental structures;
c) Proposals also generated during the recent mission to strengthen application of the management plan through preparation of annual Action Plans, linked to the Plan;
d) Proposals generated during the recent mission to encourage an extension of the World Heritage property to include Sanje Ya Kati and part of Kilwa Kivinje, and to consider priority stabilisation of key components of both sites in the interim period, given severe deterioration of both sites;
e) Repair, restoration and stabilisation works carried out on structures in Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara with the aid of interrnational donors, bringing to 25% the extent of stabilisation achieved (relative to the 70% level of stabilisation sought after 5 years by the World Heritage Committee in its 32nd session);
f) Work carried out to stabilise beach erosion at Kilwa Kisiwani, and to reduce encroachments in the World Heritage property.