In accordance with the World Heritage Committee’s request at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007), a joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission visited Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara from 1 to 6 June 2008. The World Heritage Centre received on 8 January 2008, from the State Party, a report entitled “Report on the state of conservation of the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara Endangered World Heritage Site” as requested by the World Heritage Committee.
The report includes a detailed Statement of significance and a Statement of “authenticity and of integrity” which provide an extensive description of the property. However these have not been prepared in consultation with the World Heritage Centre or ICOMOS and do not correspond with the requirements of the Operational Guidelines in preparing Statements of outstanding universal value.
The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS note that the report states that the boundaries of the core zones remain identical to those proposed in 1981 and that plans are in place to survey and delineate these boundaries. The report also proposes to define a buffer zone of 20 hectares for Kilwa Kisiwani and of 10 hectares for Songo Mnara, but precise boundaries are not proposed. Finally the report acknowledges the importance of extending the Property to include Kilwa Kivinje and notes that it is preparing a nomination to this end with UNESCO support.
Concerning the World Heritage Committee’s request to evaluate efforts to respond to the recommendations of the 2004 mission report, while the State Party report contains no direct response to this request, substantial improvements may be noted for each recommendation:
a) International documents, particularly UNESCO Conventions and Recommendations and ICOMOS charters are taken into account in the work.
b) A sea wall has been built (2006) and mangroves extended to stop erosion of the beach at Kilwa Kisiwani, and to safeguard Gereza Fort and Malindi mosque.
c) Gereza Fort has received urgent physical stabilisation and conservation attention and is the subject of a World Monuments Fund project.
d) Considerable attention has been given to structurally weak buildings in Kilwa Kisiwani.
e) Much attention has been given to reduce encroachments within the designated zones through increasing community involvement with heritage management, including development of local “Ruins Committees”.
f) Plans are being developed to include Kilwa Kivinje within the World Heritage property.
g) Attention – still not yet sufficient however – has been given to improving the management structure and supporting mechanisms, on the site.
The State Party’s report section on management details a series of conservation activities, primarily being undertaken in Songo Mnara. The report comments on efforts to establish a National Coordination Office at the Ministry responsible for antiquities and to develop a proposal to establish a National World Heritage Committee to facilitate coordination and consorted efforts to better manage World Heritage properties in the United Republic of Tanzania. The report also documents activities carried out in the context of the management plan. However although the activities described provide a very positive contribution to the World Heritage property, there is no indication that the State Party is using the property’s management plan as the main vehicle to assure co-ordination of all actions affecting it.
The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS note that while, for the most part, the State Party report does not respond directly to the World Heritage Committee’s requests, the report itself provides an extensive overview of works underway at the property and initiatives being developed. The report includes a concluding section which documents in great detail the natural and human threats to the property, and the very worthwhile successful efforts to stimulate community based involvement in long term protection of the property.
The joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission (2008) evaluated each of the existing and potential threats in relation to the outstanding universal value for which the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List, and concluded the following:
a) Improve and implement management plan and conservation plan
The mission drew attention to the conditions prevailing at the two sites, noting significant agricultural encroachment at Kilwa Kisiwani where the population resides around the standing monuments, where at Songo Mnara, the ruins are located away from the residential area. While the mission noted efforts to conserve some of the historical monuments, it also noted significant impacts from: :
· Human encroachment on the monuments through uncontrolled cultivation near the monuments and continued human and animal trampling on foundations of the ruins;
· Growth of vegetation within and around monuments often breaking up the masonry structures;
· Water and wind erosion, sea wave action, water penetration and infiltration into the masonry, weakening and washing out the lime mortar;
· Illegal removal of stone material for individual private constructions;
· Sea wave erosion particularly in Kilwa Kisiwani.
The mission confirmed the results of the State Party survey concerning the erosion and destruction of the monuments and the archaeological record of the historical city, as evidenced by the great loss of nearly all of the city walls. The mission noted that the sea wall protects several major monuments and that risks to the sea wall threaten the existence of much of the site and its future viability. The mission noted in particular that the rate of growth of mangrove plants planted in the shallow water on the shore of Gereza in Kilwa Kisiwani to protect the monuments from direct seawater splash has not been as rapid as expected and the threat from ocean flash still continues.
b) Delimitation of the property
The mission noted that the provision of details for the core area and the buffer zone, and development of related land-use plans for Kilwa and Songo Mnara as requested by the World Heritage Committee in the 31st session have yet to be addressed.
c) Some achievements
The mission also noted major achievements resulting from donor-assisted projects in Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara. The mission acknowledged the “Development of Cultural Tourism and Community Awareness Raising on the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara Endangered World Heritage Site” to be financed by the French Embassy in United Republic of Tanazania. The mission was informed about an inventory and documentation exercise for cultural and natural heritage carried out under Marine Coastal Environmental Management Project (MACEMP) in 15 villages including Kilwa, a project intended to lead to further rehabilitation and restoration to some of the historical monuments. Furthermore, an “Antiquities Policy” expected to be approved during 2008 has been drafted and submitted to the Inter-ministerial Technical Committee for action. The objective of the new Policy is to address inadequacies of the present legal framework in protecting the heritage properties including Kilwa, and that the process for the development of a new Antiquities Law would be completed in the year 2010.
d) Corrective measures
The mission concluded that despite the existing political will, strong efforts of the Department of Antiquities and recent donor support from the international community, the site‘s coastal and island location and human occupation result in unrelenting ocean and population pressures at a time when cultural heritage conservation budget and staffing levels are low, and when communities are not yet convinced of the benefits of preserving the property’s heritage values. The mission noted that site management problems can be attributed to inadequate infrastructure (including lack of dependable transportation by boat for the site’s managers), equipment, funding, and on site expertise as well as a lack of co-ordination mechanisms integrating concern for heritage values in all actions affecting the property, including the internationally supported projects noted above.
e) Desired state of conservation
The mission further identified a time framed Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, as described below.
Changes within the next two years:
· Delineate the boundaries for core and buffer zones of the property. This should also include the extension of the property to include Kilwa Kivinje and Sanje ya Kati.
Changes within three years:
· Implementation of the management plan should be advanced, and there should be signs of added rehabilitation of architectural heritage
· Management structures should be well established in each serial site with an operational office and staff;
· Establishment of a proper land-use plan to protect sites integrity and resolve future land conflicts.
Changes within five years:
· Recovery of most of architectural heritage for conservation should have been completed (though full recovery will take much longer and will require sustained effort for over a decade).
Useful indicators of recovery might include: reduction in the number of human activities encountered in and around the monuments; halted sea-wave action causing the deterioration of the heritage monuments; reviewed the existing management plan for Kilwa and established national legislative and administrative system for the protection of the property; fully completed and operational information/education centres for serial land and island sites; and a complete inventory and documentation of cultural heritage (and also natural heritage) of the property.