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Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela

Factors affecting the property in 1995*
  • Other Threats:

    Need for restoration and rehabilitation of the monuments

International Assistance: requests for the property until 1995
Requests approved: 1 (from 1980-1980)
Total amount approved : 79,800 USD
Missions to the property until 1995**

1995: 2 European Union funded experts missions

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1995

In the framework of the implementation of Resolution 27 C/20 adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1993, concerning an appeal for assistance to Ethiopia, a project for the "restoration and preservation of the churches of Lalibela" (539/ETH/70) was formulated. This project falls within the framework of the International Campaign for the Conservation and Preservation of the Monuments of Ethiopia which was launched in 1981. In 1994, the European Union financed a mission of four international consultants whose mandate was to examine the situation of the site in the wake of Ethiopia's long period of instability, and make proposals for the restoration of the churches. Their preliminary report was submitted to the national authorities so they might decide on activities to be undertaken for the conservation and preservation of the site. A second mission, also financed by the European Union, presented and discussed the report with the local authorities, the E.E.C. and representatives of the FINNIDA which had expressed interest and wished to be associated, financially and technically, in the implementation of this important project.

Beforehand, UNESCO had sent a mission of eight Spanish experts from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain, to study various aspects of the safeguarding and conservation of the site. They concentrated on the monuments of Biet-Maryam, Biet-Amanuel, and Biet-Abba-Libanos, and prepared preliminary proposals for their restoration and enhancement, together with a budget estimate for the cost of the work and a provisional time table. These were included in the global report for financing by the European Union.

Thus, the project for the "Restoration and Preservation of the Churches of Lalibela" for which the European Union reserved approximately 2 million Ecu, was defined in a technical report containing recommendations, a work plan and a detailed budget for the implementation of the recommended activities.

At the same time, UNESCO initiated cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment of Finland, under the umbrella of FINNIDA, in order to carry out a project for rehabilitating the site of Lalibela, for which 10 million Finnish Marks (about US$ 2.2 million) were earmarked over a period of four years. The project, which concentrates particularly on environmental issues concerning the site of Lalibela, nevertheless contains several aspects where close cooperation with the European Union and UNESCO project will be indispensable.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 1995

The Bureau may wish to recommend to the Committee to adopt the following text:

"The Committee congratulated the Ethiopian authorities for their efforts which have led to a restoration and conservation project for the entire site, which takes account of its environmental dimension."

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1995
19 COM VII.C.2.36/38
SOC: Churches of Lalibela (Ethiopia)

VII.36 Churches of Lalibela (Ethiopia)

The project for the "Restoration and Preservation of the Churches of Lalibela" was conceived and formulated in the framework of the International campaign for the Conservation and Preservation of-the Monuments of Ethiopia, and implemented by the Division of Cultural Heritage. It illustrates the complementarity and the dynamism of the activities carried out for heritage by the UNESCO Secretariat as a whole. This project, which receives support from the European Union and the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, will establish on the basis of extremely precise diagnostics, a conservation and maintenance programme for each of the churches and will propose a plan for the rehabilitation and preservation of the entire site. This project will also define an action programme which will take into account its environmental dimension.

The Committee congratulated the Ethiopian authorities for their efforts which have led to a restoration and conservation project for the entire site, which takes account of its environmental dimension.

The Secretariat recommends the Committee to take note of the written information provided by the Secretariat and to adopt the following:

"The Committee expressed its concern over the impact of road upgrading and rapid tourism development on the Hue World Heritage site and commended the Vietnamese Government for the integrated development approach it is adopting to address both the safeguarding and development concerns of the region."

Report year: 1995
Date of Inscription: 1978
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)

* : 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.