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Kasbah of Algiers

Algeria
Factors affecting the property in 2003*
  • Human resources
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Progressive deterioration
  • Lack of a safeguarding legislative instrument
  • Absence of legal instruments for the application of the 98.04 Law for the protection of cultural heritage
  • Need for training
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2003
Requests approved: 5 (from 1993-2002)
Total amount approved : 92,600 USD
Missions to the property until 2003**

Septembre 2001: UNESCO expert mission; September 2002: World Heritage Centre mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003

WHC:

In September 2002, a WHC mission went to the site in order to assess the development of the situation, and had the opportunity to visit the Citadel, the Lower Kasbah as well as most of the residential quarters. Concerning the Citadel, restoration works are going on at a slow pace, under the responsibility of the National Agency for Archaeology. These works, entrusted to a local contractor, are based on a project prepared in 1986, which foresaw the transformation of the Citadel into a Museum. Serious structural problems, however, are raising the concern of the National Agency, whose technicians lack the necessary skills in dealing with such issues. The Centre's Mission noted, moreover, the lack of an appropriate documentation and monitoring of the monument, which would be essential both for the understanding of its static behaviour and complex historic chronology in view of the conservation and restoration of the Citadel. The Mission also learnt of a large capacity building programme (1,5 million Euro), sponsored by the Italian Government, which should start shortly by training local technicians in conservation, and would later include the actual rehabilitation of the Citadel.

The Centre is coordinating its training activity for the Kasbah with this initiative to ensure complementarity and avoid duplications. In the lower Kasbah, the Wilaya of Algiers undertook important works, namely under the Martyrs' Square and the sea front arcades. This project, called "Carrefour du millénaire", has created a large underground commercial area extending from the city to the Port. The Great Mosque and the Fishery Mosque have also been restored. In the area adjacent to the Bastion 23 (a remnant of the original Ottoman structures near the sea) some important building projects have been executed in recent years, such as the "Cité de la Musique", introducing within the Kasbah contemporary architectural elements not compatible with the character of the area. The Centre was not informed of these projects.

The most worrying part of the site is undoubtedly the residential quarters of the Higher Kasbah, between the Citadel and the Port. The very degraded state of conservation of the urban tissue, the extent of the socio-economic problems and the constraints preventing an effective juridical protection of the site had been brought to the attention of the Committee already in 2001. Here the new information concerns a recent aid programme established by the Wilaya to enable owners to rehabilitate their properties. An amount of 60 million dinars (almost 1 million dollars) was provided by the State to that end. In September 2002, however, only 15 rehabilitation permits had been granted through this mechanism, possibly owing to the fact that owners are supposed to contribute 50% of the total costs. Some other public works on streets and fountains are also being carried out.

Despite these positive developments, the situation remains extremely grave, with several buildings in danger of collapse and tons of garbage lying on the streets, in the absence of a comprehensive Urban Conservation Plan and adequate financial resources. The Centre's Mission, moreover, noted that the Algerian Cultural Heritage Department was not involved in conservation activities outside the Citadel and the Bastion 23. New hope was raised by a letter of 29 March 2003, in which the Director of the Algerian Cultural Heritage Department informed the Centre that the Kasbah had been finally designated as a special protected zone (secteur sauvegardé) by the National Cultural Heritage Commission.

This very important step will hopefully enable the finalization and future implementation of the Urban Conservation Plan (Plan de Sauvegarde et de Mise en Valeur PSMV), under preparation since many years. It is to be mentioned that the Centre has not been consulted during the elaboration of this Plan, which, to this day, it has not seen. The completion of the Plan would necessarily have to include detailed technical specifications and building regulations. In this respect, the Centre's Mission recommended that the expertise available within an NGO called "Association des Amis de la Casbah", actively engaged in conservation and rehabilitation projects, might be of help to the responsible authorities.

ICOMOS:

This property was formally inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1992, following a somewhat unusual procedure. At the 15th session of the Committee at Carthage (Tunisia) in December 1991, it was agreed that the procedure for inscription should be initiated but not confirmed until the State Party provided details of a suitable management plan. The outline plan was submitted during 1992, although it was reported that it was not yet approved or in operation. The undertaking of the State Party to implement the plan without delay was accepted by ICOMOS and the Committee, and the property was duly inscribed.

ICOMOS feels cause for concern after reading the excellent report by the Centre on its mission to Algeria in September 2002. It appears that little has been done to advance the implementation of an effective management plan. The condition of the Haute Casbah is clearly little short of disastrous, whilst in the Basse Casbah work is in progress that contravenes the conservation principles underlying the Convention. In its report, the Centre Mission describes the property unambiguously as a site in danger, where urgent measures must be taken to check the threats caused by the insalubrious conditions that weigh heavily on the inhabitants, an aspect that appears not to have been attended to for a number of years. ICOMOS is acutely aware of and highly sympathetic to the economic problems within the State Party. It recommends that the “Plan permanent de sauvegarde et de mise en valeur de la Casbah d'Alger” be finalised and following its presentation to the Committee, be implemented as soon as possible in order to address the problems of this very important property. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2003
27 COM 7B.35
Kasbah of Algiers (Algeria)

The World Heritage Committee [21],

1. Having noted the very worrying state of conservation of the Kasbah, and its difficult socio-economic context,;

2. Commends the Algerian authorities for having designated the Kasbah as a protected zone under the current Law, which constitutes an important step towards an effective protection of the property;

3. Recognizes the urgent need to strengthen capacity of the responsible technical bodies in conservation and appreciates the support from the Italian Government in this respect,

4. Invites the State Party to rapidly proceed, in close consultation with the World Heritage Centre, with the completion and implementation of the Luang Prabang conservation plan Plan de sauvegarde et de mise en valeur (PSMV), which will have to include appropriate institutional co-ordination mechanism, as well as construction regulations and detailed technical specifications adapted to the particular architectural context of the Kasbah;

5. Strongly encourages the State Party to make available as a matter of urgency the necessary financial resources to the responsible bodies for emergency rehabilitation interventions within the Kasbah;

6. Requests the State Party to submit a report to the World Heritage Centre on the progress in the finalization and implementation of the Urban Conservation Plan by 1 February 2004 in order that the World Heritage Committee can examine the state of conservation of the property at its 28th session in 2004.

[21]  Decision adopted without discussion.

Draft Decision: 27 COM 7 (b) 35

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having noted the very worrying state of conservation of the Kasbah, and its difficult socio-economic context,

2. Commends the Algerian authorities for having designated the Kasbah as a special protected zone under the current Law, which constitutes an important step towards an effective protection of the site,

3. Recognizes the urgent need to strengthen capacity in conservation for responsible technical bodies and appreciative of the support from the Italian Government in this respect,

4. Invites the State Party to rapidly proceed, in close consultation with the WHC, with the completion and implementation of the PSMV, which will have to include appropriate institutional co-ordination mechanism, as well as building regulations and detailed technical specifications adapted to the particular architectural context of the Kasbah,

5. Strongly encourages the State Party to make available as a matter of urgency the necessary financial resources to the responsible bodies for emergency rehabilitation interventions within the Kasbah,

6. Requests the State Party to prepare a report on the progress in the finalization and implementation of the Urban Conservation Plan by 1st February 2004 for the consideration of the Committee at its 28th session. 

Report year: 2003
Algeria
Date of Inscription: 1992
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(v)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 27COM (2003)
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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