1.         Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela (Ethiopia) (C 18)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1978

Criteria  (i)(ii)(iii)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/18/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1980-1980)
Total amount approved: USD 79,800
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/18/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

1995: 2 European Union funded experts missions

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/18/

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 Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

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."

Decision Adopted: 19 COM VII.C.2.36/38

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.