Koutammakou is a vast transboundary cultural landscape stretching from north-eastern Togo to north-western Benin. It is the land of the Batammariba, a people remarkable in particular for its highly elaborate organic architecture reflecting an intimate relationship between humans and their environment.
In 2004, the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of this cultural landscape was recognised by the World Heritage Committee with the inscription of a territory of 50,000 hectares on the Togolese side. The State Party of Benin is proposing an extension of the property inscribed on the World Heritage List on its territory in order to restore its territorial integrity on one hand, and to add physical attributes that would reinforce its OUV on the other hand.
In order to succeed in proposing this extension, the Directorate of Cultural Heritage (DPC) has requested technical support from UNESCO for the preparation and finalisation of the nomination dossier. This project contributed to support and strengthen the technical capacities of the national team of Benin in charge of the preparation of the nomination dossier, in view of its submission to the World Heritage Centre in January 2021.
The project was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Chinese Government's Fund for Capacity Building and Cooperation for World Heritage in Africa.
- Participatory identification of technical partner (CRAterre) and national experts involved with the States Parties of Benin and Togo until July 2020.
- Finalization of the contracts (CRAterre, State Party of Benin) in September 2020.
- On 31 October 2020, the Directorate of Cultural Heritage of Benin submitted to the World Heritage Centre for technical review a draft nomination dossier for the Beninese part of Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba. The document, which was the result of sustained work by the Beninese national technical team in close collaboration with the Africa Unit of the World Heritage Centre and CRAterre (technical partner), constituted a first draft of the final nomination dossier that the State Party of Benin plans to submit to the World Heritage Centre by January 2021.
- A final data collection mission took place from 19 to 23 November 2020 in the north of the Atacora mountain range with the national team in charge of preparing the dossier and CRAterre. The nomination dossier for the extension to Benin of the Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba, was submitted by the State Party of Benin to the World Heritage Centre on 29 January 2021.
- Despite the health crisis linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project was implemented according to the initial planning and all the objectives were achieved. An article to document this process is proposed for publication in the next UNESCO publication on transborder/transnational cooperation in Africa.
© Sébastien Moriset, 2020