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Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata

Mauritania
Factors affecting the property in 2001*
  • 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 2001
Requests approved: 7 (from 1995-2001)
Total amount approved : 119,632 USD
Missions to the property until 2001**
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Main issues: Socio-economic and climatic changes; lack of conservation and management policy.

New information:

At the invitation of the Mauritanian authorities, the head of the Arab Desk of the WHC carried out a mission to Ouadane and Chinguetti in April 2001 to assess their state of conservation and discuss with the national authorities possible measures to be taken for their safeguarding.

In Ouadane, the mission visited the site of the Friday Mosque, which is being restored with funds through the Convention (38,000 US$). The works are progressing and the project should be completed by the end of the summer.

The mission found that the problems affecting the two cities, already identified in the dossier of inscription submitted in 1996, have not been solved, despite the efforts of the Mauritanian authorities, and particularly of the Fondation Nationale pour la Sauvegarde des Villes Anciennes (FNSVA). The deep climatic and socio-economic changes occurred during the last decades, combined with lack of funds and trained human resources, are seriously affecting the state of conservation of the ancient ksour, whose historic cores are being abandoned.

The recent growth of the tourism in the region, triggered since two charter flights per week coming directly from Europe reach the airport of the Northern city of Atar, together with an impulse to the economy of the two cities (and a increase of their population) has introduced a further element of risk for the conservation of their cultural and natural values. A number of tourist hotels have been established at Ouadane and Chinguetti, and new constructions are being built within the buffer zones of the World Heritage site, not always conforming to the traditional character and materials of the old cities.

As recognized by the Director of the FNSVA, an integrated action is urgently needed to address the challenge of reconciling the need for development for these disadvantaged communities and the imperatives of conservation of the World Heritage sites. However, despite a great interest, both at national and local level, for the conservation of the ancient ksour of Mauritania, a clear management policy has not yet been developed nor have the necessary human and financial resources been identified and put in place.  The problems at Tichitt and Oualata are more or less the same as in Ouadane and Chinguetti, only worsened in the case of Tichitt by the exceptional rainfalls of two years ago.

At this crucial time in the history of these ancient cities, several projects are being developed, which may have a considerable impact on the conservation of their cultural heritage. Among these is a large National Cultural Heritage Project funded by the World Bank, including a component for tangible heritage, and an important restoration project for Ouadane with the support of the Portuguese Government. The European Union, Spain and Germany are also said to consider funding cooperation projects in or around the ksour of Mauritania, in the fields of infrastructure, protection from sand dunes encroachment and rehabilitation. A network of national and international NGOs is also very active with several smaller projects being carried out at local level.

Action Required
The Bureau recommends that urgent action be undertaken by the Mauritanian authorities, in close coordination with the World Heritage Centre, to provide the ancient ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata with a technical and institutional framework for the implementation of appropriate management and conservation policies, integrating the various national and international efforts into a single coherent strategy for the safeguarding of these unique sites and the strengthening of the capacity of the responsible national and local authorities.
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2001
25 BUR V.220-222
Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata (Mauritania)

V.220     The Secretariat informed the Bureau on the findings of the mission carried out by a Centre staff to Ouadane and Chinguetti in April 2001 to assess the state of conservation and discuss with the national authorities possible measures to be taken for their safeguarding. The Bureau noted that the restoration works of the Mosque of Ouadane, funded under the World Heritage Convention, are proceeding according to schedule and should be completed by the end of the summer.

V.221     The Bureau noted the various problems gravely affecting these ancient cities despite the commendable efforts of the competent national authorities. These range from big climatic and socio-economic changes to lack of funds and trained human resources. The Secretariat informed the Bureau of its intention to develop a large project for the rehabilitation of the four ancient ksour, and to seek extrabudgetary funds for that purpose. The urgency of an intervention was further explained by the risk of adverse effects on the conservation of the ancient ksour caused by the rapidly growing tourism industry in this fragile area. The Bureau and ICOMOS supported the strategy proposed by the Secretariat, notably to elaborate urban conservation and development plans for the cities, including technical and juridical instruments to facilitate a policy of rehabilitation and re-appropriation of the old abandoned houses.

V.222     The Bureau recommended that urgent action be undertaken by the Mauritanian authorities, in close co-ordination with the Centre, to provide the ancient ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata with a technical and institutional framework for the implementation of appropriate management and conservation policies. This framework should integrate the various national and international efforts into a single coherent strategy to safeguard these unique sites and strengthening the capacity of the responsible national and local authorities.

Report year: 2001
Mauritania
Date of Inscription: 1996
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)(v)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 25COM (2001)
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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