1.         Old Towns of Djenné (Mali) (C 116rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1988

Criteria  (iii)(iv)

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/116/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1981-2012)
Total amount approved: USD 59,577
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/116/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 110,000 (Italian Funds-in-Trust); USD 23,100 (Croisi Europe); USD 86,900 (European Commission), USD 53,000 (Netherland Funds-in-Trust)

Previous monitoring missions

2002, 2005: World Heritage Centre missions; 2006: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM reactive monitoring mission, 2014: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/116/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission visited the property from 10 to 15 March 2014. Subsequently, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report on 24 March 2014. Both reports are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/116/documents/.

The State Party report highlights a number of conservation issues that have been exacerbated after the crisis in Mali. The lack of resources has hindered institutional capacities to address conditions currently affecting the property, including maintenance of the building stock, sanitation issues, development pressures, etc. Also, cultural tourism, a considerable source of revenue for the local communities and municipality, has practically ceased. Notwithstanding, efforts have been made to carry-out a condition survey to identify a priority action plan, to evaluate the management plan and to identify required updates to make the system more operational and adequate in response to emerging conditions. Work was also undertaken for the adoption of urban regulations and for the establishment of a management committee that would bring together stakeholders from the administrative, political, and religious and community arenas. The State Party also reports that, in spite of difficulties being faced, the Djenné community organised the annual maintenance of the mosque specially focused on the re-rendering of earthen architecture. Other measures were implemented at the archaeological sites to prevent further physical erosion of the remains.

The reactive monitoring mission to the property evaluated the state of conservation of the property and verified that current conditions at all component parts of the property need to be urgently addressed. It underscored that if action is not taken, the attributes that convey Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), as well as the conditions of authenticity and integrity would be significantly threatened. The mission, however, noted the willingness of different stakeholders at the national and local level to coordinate efforts to ensure that pressing conservation and management issues are tackled. A twelve month costed priority action plan has been developed and it is expected that implementation could commence upon securing necessary resources.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

The State Party has made a number of efforts, notwithstanding the difficult conditions, to implement the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee. However, urgent action is needed at the property so that its OUV is not irreversibly compromised. The crisis in Mali has exacerbated issues in relation to the progressive deterioration of the urban fabric of the property, the lack of effective implementation of regulatory measures to control encroachment and other impacts at the archaeological component parts, to regulate interventions at the historic town and to address new informal construction. Issues such as solid waste management, sewage and general sanitation continue to be far from resolved constituting a considerable threat to the local communities. The nature of earthen architecture construction makes it particularly vulnerable and strong efforts are needed to actively maintain and sustain the different attributes.

The findings of the mission are noted and the proposed priority action plan is considered as an important step for the conservation of the property as it includes comprehensive measures that could feasibly be implemented at the local level if the necessary financial resources, approximately USD 120,000, were secured. Interventions such as finalising delimitation of the archaeological sites, reinforcing anti-erosion measures, the update of the management plan and the adoption of urban regulations are essential to improve conservation of the property the short term. The current will at the political, administrative and community level to address pressing concerns is an important opportunity to make fully functional management arrangements that could sustain efforts in the long term.

Finally, if no substantial progress is achieved in the upcoming year, it is recommended that the World Heritage Committee consider inscribing the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, as a call for action to garner the necessary and sustained support for the implementation of conservation, protection and management measures.

Decision Adopted: 38 COM 7B.50

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.41 adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Acknowledges the efforts of the State Party for the implementation of the previous recommendations of the World Heritage Committee, notwithstanding the difficult situations being faced;
  4. Expresses its deep concern about the current state of the property and the limited resources currently available to achieve substantial progress in addressing conservation and management issues;
  5. Notes the conclusions of the reactive monitoring mission to the property and urges the State Party to begin the implementation of the proposed priority action plan with particular attention to the following:
    1. Define the boundaries of the archaeological sites and their buffer zones and establish regulations to ensure their adequate protection from encroachment,
    2. Implement anti-erosion measures for the archaeological sites based on a study of hydrological dynamics at the different sites,
    3. Implement measures to address illegal occupations at the river banks,
    4. Define conservation and maintenance regulations for the building stock at the historic town and facilitate access to materials for maintenance actions by the local inhabitants,
    5. Secure resources to strengthen the activities of the Cultural Mission and to allow for management arrangements to become fully operational,
    6. Finalise the adoption process of the urban regulatory measures and strengthen institutional frameworks for their enforcement;
  6. Requests the State Party to finalize the update of the management plan and to provide an electronic and three printed copies of the revised management plan or management system for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Also urges the State Party, within the framework of the UNESCO Mali Action Plan adopted on 18 February 2013, to cooperate with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, as well as any other relevant international bodies, to identify means to implement the twelve-month emergency action plan;
  8. Also requests the State Party to invite a joint UNESCO/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to assess the progress made in the implementation of the priority action plan and to ascertain whether the criteria for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger are met;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, a report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and on the steps taken to implement the recommendations set out in paragraph 5 above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015, with a view to considering, in the case of confirmation of the ascertained or potential danger to Outstanding Universal Value, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.