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Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata

Mauritania
Factors affecting the property in 2002*
  • Desertification
  • Governance
  • Human resources
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Storms
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Desertification
  • Financial resources
  • Housing
  • Human resources
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2002
Requests approved: 7 (from 1995-2001)
Total amount approved : 119,632 USD
Missions to the property until 2002**

February-March 2002: experts mission 

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2002

At the request of the Mauritanian Government, a plan of action entitled: « Integrated Urban Development of World Heritage Cities in Mauritania », aiming at the safeguarding and development of the ancient cities of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata, is being prepared, under the guidance of the World Heritage Centre, by a multidisciplinary team of experts in the framework of the France-UNESCO Convention.

The principal lines of action of UNESCO, aiming at the preservation and development of World Cultural Heritage in Mauritania and the training of local professionals in the field of heritage management, were presented in March 2002 at the opening of the National Symposium on Traditional Mauritanian Architecture organized in the framework of the Project for the « Safeguarding and Presentation of Mauritanian Cultural Heritage» (PSVPCM) being implemented and financed by the World Bank.

This action plan is now one of the pilot projects of the UNESCO Intersectoral Project « Sustainable Development of World Heritage sites for Poverty Elimination », and in May 2002 it will be presented to the Mauritanian authorities concerned, as well as to the persons in charge of the implementation of the project by the World Bank. 

During their preparatory mission to Mauritania in February-March 2002, the experts studied the general state of conservation of the four ancient cities as well as the different development and restoration projects carried out or being implemented in these cities.  The technical and institutional framework was also evaluated. 

In view of the continuing deterioration raising cause for concern, the experts noted in each of the four ancient cities a will for change, a general tendency of increased activity, pressure and even real estate investment, often linked to tourism. The planning of new areas is uncontrolled. The distribution of new land is carried out by the Municipality without prior planning of the urban infrastructure, accessibility or balance of the future urban tissue.

With regard to the activities carried out by the different foreign cooperation agencies in each of the cities, they appear to be independent of one another and with little involvement of the local populations in the implementation of the programmes.  The ongoing restoration work within the archaeological zone of the Historic Centre of Ouadane, funded under Portuguese cooperation, is being carried out without any prior archaeological research, and without any security instructions.

One of the main problems of the Mauritanian institutional framework is its lack of authority and absence of institutional coordination founded on the definition of the competencies of the organisms. For example, the "National Foundation for the Safeguarding of the Ancient Cities" (FNSVA), has only two professional staff members, including its Director, no technician trained in conservation and no representation at the sites, which are located at a great distance from the capital, Nouakchott.

To respond to this problem, an organizational and institutional audit was launched within the Project financed by the World Bank and is presently being implemented.

With regard to the specific problems of each city, Ouadane and Chinguetti are more affected by tourism development, the latter being seriously threatened by sand encroachment, that obliges the inhabitants to abandon the ground floors of their houses.  The city of Tichitt suffered from very heavy rain in 1999, causing the collapse of several houses. Some of the damaged houses have remained untouched, whereas others have been bulldozed and new houses built in their place, but of a different conception.  The need for large-scale reconstruction has created a heavy demand for materials. The stone now being extracted is produced in large blocks, whilst when the city was built small blocks were used. Moreover, this stone is of a different colour, being grey-green. In Oualata, a Spanish cooperation project has elaborated an integral programme for this city covering the different domains: agriculture, irrigation, and in particular, the restoration of the inner part of the Historic Centre of the City. This work is limited to the restitution/restoration of certain façades of the most representative old houses which are located on the route of the future tourist trails. Doors are reinvented in these walls, behind which, only ruins remain.  

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2002
26 COM 21B.59
Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata (Mauritania)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Recommends to the State Party to integrate the Action Plan developed by the World Heritage Centre into its national strategy aiming at the safeguarding of the cultural heritage, as well as the social and economic revitalization of the cities, and more specifically in the framework of the project "Safeguarding and Presentation of Mauritanian World Cultural Heritage" and in the chapter "Integrated Urban Development" of the Strategic Framework of the Fight Against Poverty, funded by the World Bank; 

2. Requests the State Party to ensure, in close consultation with the World Heritage Centre and through an appropriate institutional mechanism, that all interventions at the four cities are jointly coordinated and compatible with the outstanding universal values justifying their inscription on the World Heritage List;

3. Invites the State Party to ensure that, following the result of the organizational and institutional audit of the legal and institutional framework of the heritage sector, necessary resources be attributed for the functioning of the competent management and technical structure for the conservation of World Heritage and the training of its personnel.

The Committee may wish to adopt the following decision:

 

« The Committee recommends to the State Party to integrate the Action Plan developed by the World Heritage Centre in its national strategy aiming at the safeguarding of the cultural heritage, as well as the social and economic revitalization of the cities, and more specifically in the framework of the Project « Safeguarding and Presentation of Mauritanian World Cultural Heritage » and in the chapter « Integrated Urban Development » of the Strategic Framework of the Fight Against Poverty, funded by the World Bank.  The Committee requests the State Party to ensure, in close consultation with the World Heritage Centre and through an appropriate institutional mechanism, that all the interventions at the four cities are jointly coordinated and compatible with the respect of the outstanding universal values justifying their inscription on the World Heritage List.  The Committee invites the State Party to ensure that following the result of the organizational and institutional audit of the legal and institutional framework of the heritage sector, the necessary resources will be attributed for the functioning of the competent management and technical structure for the conservation of World Heritage and the training of its personnel." 

Report year: 2002
Mauritania
Date of Inscription: 1996
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)(v)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 26COM (2002)
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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