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Timbuktu

Mali
Factors affecting the property in 1994*
  • Desertification
  • Financial resources
  • Legal framework
  • Water (rain/water table)
  • Wind
  • Other Threats:

    Vulnerability of the mosques

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Sand encroachment ;
  • Vulnerability of the mosques; 
  • Lack of financial resources;
  • Deterioration of the rainwater drainage system;
  • Aeolian erosion;
  • Need for appropriate laws
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1994
Requests approved: 4 (from 1981-1994)
Total amount approved : 74,115 USD
Missions to the property until 1994**

June-July 1990: expert missions; early 1994: UNESCO mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1994

The three mosques of Djingareiber, Sankore and Sidi Yahia were placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1990. These properties are threatened by obvious, precise and imminent dangers:

a)  serious alteration of the mud construction materials

b)  serious alteration of the structures

c)  the climatic factor of desertification.

 

A UNESCO mission was undertaken earlier this year. The report of the mission recommends a method of intervention involving the local population which, since the construction of the mosques, has been responsible for their upkeep, thus perpetuating a living religious culture. This method foresees the organization of a pilot work site in a restricted zone of each mosque, to be implemented in three stages:

1)  preparation of a documented study recording all the stages of the annual maintenance work, so as to clearly determine the organization of the voluntary work sites;

2)  identification, together with specialists, of the appropriate additives and stabilizers for the "banco" of Timbuktu;

3)  organization of a pilot work site which should be entrusted to a Mali architect assisted by municipal technicians. The architect would also have the responsibility for defining a long-term conservation programme taking account of the local realities, whilst respecting and improving traditional techniques.

 

Having examined the state of conservation report, the Bureau requested the World Heritage Centre to ask the Mali authorities to prepare a report to be submitted to the eighteenth session of the Committee, concerning follow-up action with regard to the report of the UNESCO mission. Since then, the Minister of Culture has given his full backing and support to the recommendations made by the UNESCO mission. The Chief of the "Mission culturelle de Tombouctou" informed the Secretariat of the World Heritage Centre that he had already commissioned a documented study recording all stages of the maintenance work which is conducted annually in July. He furthermore attended an international course in the preservation of "Earth Architecture", in Grenoble, 19 September to 7 October 1994 organized by CRATerre-EAG and ICCROM-ARC. The World Heritage Centre was able to award a financial grant under the Regular Programme to cover the fees and per diem which allowed the Chief of the "Mission culturelle de Tombouctou" to attend the above-mentioned course.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 1994

The Committee is recommended to endorse the three-step action plan mentioned above and to support the State Party, if and when requested, in its implementation. It is recommended that this site be retained on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1994
18 COM IX
SOC: Timbuktu (Mali)

Timbuktu (Mali)

The Committee was informed that the Government of Mali had fully endorsed the recommendations of a UNESCO mission that was undertaken in early 1994 and which recommended a method of intervention involving the local population which, since the construction of the mosques, had been responsible for their upkeep, thus perpetuating a living religious cultural tradition. The Committee also endorsed this proposal and decided that it would support its implementation, if and when requested by the State Party. The Committee decided to retain the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

18 BUR VI.B
Timbuktu (Mali)

The three mosques of Djingareiber, Sankore and Sidi Yahia were placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1990. These properties are threatened by obvious, precise and imminent dangers:

a) serious alteration of the mud construction materials

b) serious alteration of the structures

c) the climatic factor of desertification.

The Bureau was informed of the content of the report, produced in French, concerning the state of conservation of the three mosques, by the UNESCO consultant. In 1990, this consultant elaborated the proposal for the placing of the mosques on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and in his present report he noted that the situation was more or less the same as in 1990 and that the mosques remained threatened by the dangers which were identified at that time. The consultant also highlighted the threats to the mosques during the annual maintenance work. This work, which is coordinated by the religious authorities in consultation with the management committees and the masons attached to each mosque, is organized by means of an appeal for donations of material and voluntary labour. The voluntary system in force contributes to the rapid degradation of traditional technology. The poor quality of the mud construction materials ("banco") prepared and applied each year by inexpert hands causes water infiltration and attack by micro-organisms, and this attempt at creating a protective coating for the building also tends to weaken its structure.

The report recommends a method of intervention involving the local population which, since the construction of the mosques, has been responsible for their upkeep, thus perpetuating a living religious culture. This method foresees the organization of a pilot work site in a restricted zone of each mosque, to be implemented in three stages:

1) preparation of a documented study recording all the stages of the annual maintenance work, so as to clearly determine the organization of the voluntary work sites;

2) identification, together with specialists, of the appropriate additives and stabilisers for the "banco" of Timbuktu;

3) organization of a pilot work site which should be entrusted to a Mali architect assisted by municipal technicians. The architect would also have the responsibility for defining a long­term conservation programme taking account of the local realities, whilst respecting and improving traditional techniques.

The Bureau requested the World Heritage Centre to ask the Mali authorities to prepare a report to be submitted to the eighteenth session of the Committee, concerning follow-up action with regard to the report of the UNESCO consultant. Considering the grave situation of the city where insecurity abounds, and which is threatened by the advance of the dunes, the World Heritage Centre should define, together with the Mali authorities, appropriate cooperative action to meet this situation.

The Committee was informed that the Government of Mali had fully endorsed the recommendations of a UNESCO mission that was undertaken in early 1994 and which recommended a method of intervention involving the local population which, since the construction of the mosques, had been responsible for their upkeep, thus perpetuating a living religious cultural tradition. The Committee also endorsed this proposal and decided that it would support its implementation, if and when requested by the State Party. The Committee decided to retain the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Report year: 1994
Mali
Date of Inscription: 1988
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(v)
Danger List (dates): 1990-2005, 2012-present
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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