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Sukur Cultural Landscape

Nigeria
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Civil unrest
  • Illegal activities
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Requests approved: 2 (from 1997-2004)
Total amount approved : 27,150 USD
Missions to the property until 2016**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

Following the informal meeting held on 6 July 2015 in Bonn (during the 39th session of the Committee) with the State Party and the Advisory Bodies, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies requested the State Party to submit a state of conservation report to address issues they had reported during that meeting on attacks at the property (December 2014), the security situation of population and the property, damaged houses and properties, vandalized schools and health clinics, as well as damaged paved stone walkways.

The State Party submitted its report on 23 March 2016, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/938/documents/ and describes the damage inflicted and indicates progress made as follows:

  • On 12 December 2014, insurgents attacked the Sukur Cultural Landscape, traumatized the community, disrupted their traditional livelihoods and burnt down houses, properties, foodstuff and livestock. Even though the destructions did not cause irreparable damage to the cultural landscape, the physical destruction and impact on the landscape were noticeable and they included the information and Interpretation centre (located downhill), the Hidi Palace, the Palace Square and the Black Smith Homestead (located inside the property), and the impacts on the intangible cultural heritage;
  • Although the security situation has remarkably improved and normalcy has returned to most of the settlements including the hilltop settlement at Sukur (as reported on 9 March 2016 by a Local Government mission), the property requires an emergency rescue plan to restore the tangible and intangible cultural values of this landscape through the rehabilitation of destroyed cultural heritage and infrastructure;
  • The population increase due to a large number of people that sought refuge on the hill top during the period of the insurgency has added stress on the cultural landscape;
  • After their return, the community embarked on the restoration of their individual and communal properties. Individual compounds and homesteads are being restored by owners and have been completed to various degrees. The Palace, ritual and ceremonial sites, community school and other government structures all await restoration. The schools on the plain have been re-opened thanks to the help of volunteers from the community who are currently running them.

Furthermore, the Hidi and the site manager met with the Director of the World Heritage Centre on 31 May 2016 during a meeting in Tanzania to discuss the situation of the property.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2016

Sukur Cultural Landscape was Nigeria’s first UNESCO World Heritage property, inscribed in 1999. Located at an altitude of 1000 metres within the Mandara mountains range, the walled hilltop sheltered the community from prolonged attacks of insurgents that have been going on in North-Eastern Nigeria since 2012.  The attacks have severely paralyzed the socio-economic and cultural activities of the region.

By January 2016, the insurgents had been weakened by the combined operations of the Nigerian military and the local hunters/vigilante groups. Their ability to confront and attack communities had been seriously degraded except for occasional attacks on soft targets. The high presence of security agencies and the check points mounted along the highway is reassuring communities and commuters of their safety.

Population increase, due to a large number of people that sought refuge on the hill top since the period of the insurgency, has added stress on the cultural landscape. A clear housing management plan is needed to ensure that the present population growth is compatible with the sustainable conservation of the property.

The desecrations of the palace and other ritual sites by the insurgents, the destructions of houses, church and schools, the temporary dislocation of population to other towns have all disrupted the normal traditional life and brought some set back to the socio-cultural development of the Sukur community, bearing significant impact on their living heritage. This has affected also periodic traditional festivals, ceremonies and rituals. The requested Emergency Assistance could address this issue as well.

As peace and stability are being restored, it is recommended that the Committee consider an emergency response to rehabilitate the property, which could cover the following areas:

  • Provision of local building materials in form of grass for roofs, wood, ropes, mats, zinc nails etc.;
  • Assistance towards restoration of traditional stone buildings at the Hidi Palace, the Palace Square, the Black Smith Homestead, the paved walkways, cow pens, granaries, threshing fields, desecrated ritual sites and festival grounds;
  • Assistance towards rebuilding some of the demolished community structures, such as primary health care centre, school structure and interpretation centre;
  • Encouraging and supporting the resumption of the cultural calendar related to the agro-pastoral landscape;
  • Replacement of stolen or vandalized equipment for conservation of the property.
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7B.17
Sukur Cultural Landscape (Nigeria) (C 938)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Notes with deep concern the security situation in North-Eastern Nigeria, in particular the attacks on 12 December 2014 at the Sukur Cultural Landscape;
  3. Welcoming the joint efforts of the State Party and local hunters/vigilante groups in weakening insurgents attack operations in the surrounds of the Sukur Cultural Landscape;
  4. Commends the Sukur Cultural Landscape community for its resilience to remain steadfast to its traditional life and to restore normalcy in its settlements;
  5. Takes note of the urgency to rehabilitate the Hidi Palace, the Palace Square, the Black Smith Homestead, the paved walkways and ritual structures, as well as social, educational and information centres, and to revive intangible cultural heritage practices;
  6. Invites the State Party to submit an International Assistance request to support the provision of local building materials for the restoration of the traditional buildings and the desecrated ritual sites and festival grounds, the repair of social and education buildings, and the replacement of stolen or vandalized equipment for the conservation of the property;
  7. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, in order to assess the state of conservation of the property in relation to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), in particular, the restored paved stone walkways, the rehabilitation of the Hidi Palace and the Palace Square and the revitalization of the living cultural heritage;
  8. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7B.17

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Notes with deep concern the security situation in North-Eastern Nigeria, in particular the attacks on 12 December 2014 at the Sukur Cultural Landscape;
  3. Welcoming the joint efforts of the State Party and local hunters/vigilante groups in weakening insurgents attack operations in the surrounds of the Sukur Cultural Landscape;
  4. Commends the Sukur Cultural Landscape community for its resilience to remain steadfast to its traditional life and to restore normalcy in its settlements;
  5. Takes note of the urgency to rehabilitate the Hidi Palace, the Palace Square, the Black Smith Homestead, the paved walkways and ritual structures, as well as social, educational and information centres, and to revive intangible cultural heritage practices;
  6. Invites the State Party to submit an International Assistance request to support the provision of local building materials for the restoration of the traditional buildings and the desecrated ritual sites and festival grounds, the repair of social and education buildings, and the replacement of stolen or vandalized equipment for the conservation of the property;
  7. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, in order to assess the state of conservation of the property in relation to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), in particular, the restored paved stone walkways, the rehabilitation of the Hidi Palace and the Palace Square and the revitalization of the living cultural heritage;
  8. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
Report year: 2016
Nigeria
Date of Inscription: 1999
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(v)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 40COM (2016)
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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