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Lower Valley of the Omo

Ethiopia
Factors affecting the property in 2018*
  • Crop production
  • Erosion and siltation/ deposition
  • Housing
  • Industrial areas
  • Land conversion
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Erosion and siltation/ deposition
  • Development projects
  • Housing
  • Industrial areas
  • Land conversion
  • Absence of established boundary
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2018

Total amount granted: 400,000 euros from European Union (project launched in 2016)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2018
Requests approved: 2 (from 1996-2015)
Total amount approved : 17,018 USD
Missions to the property until 2018**
April 2015: Joint UNESCO/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 31 January 2018, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/17/documents/. Progress in a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions is presented in the report, as follows:

  • The updated description of the Kuraz Sugar Development project (KSDP) provides new information:
    1. The revised KSDP comprises a total cultivable area of 100,000 ha and four sugar processing factories,
    2. As of December 2017, 14,000 ha of sugar cane have been planted. Each of the four factories will have a main town. In addition, 10 sub-towns, 40 villages, 2,610 km of access roads and 1,384 km of drainage canals are foreseen,
    3. As of June 2017, 1,016 residential houses and 11 non-residential buildings, such as schools and hospitals, were constructed,
    4. Status of the four sugar processing factories: production started in June 2017 for Kuraz I and in March 2017 for Kuraz II. Construction of Kuraz III is to be completed in June 2018 and in 2020 for Kuraz V,
    5. Additional information on the pastoral communities: villagization programme providing infrastructures and social services (e.g. schools, health stations, irrigable lands), training in sugar production and other farming activities. To date, five local community villages have been constructed, and five additional villages are planned;
  • The updated description concludes that the project has no potential impact on the three formations (Kibish, Usno and Shingura) making up the Lower Omo Valley World Heritage property;
  • The updated map indicates factory locations, main and secondary canals, access roads, farm villages, and farm blocks;
  • The Ethiopian Mapping Agency continues to work on the boundary delineation of the property in the framework of the EU-funded project;
  • The State Party is amending the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) of the Kuraz project on the basis of ICOMOS’ review of November 2017;
  • A scoping study for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Kuraz project was submitted with the report, for review by the Advisory Bodies.

Regarding the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which was to assess potential impacts of the Gibe III dam and Kuraz project on the Lake Turkana basin, the State Party of Kenya informed the World Heritage Centre by letter of 23 June 2017 that the SEA would not be ready by the February 2018 deadline, as requested in Decision 39 COM 7B.4.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2018

The updated information on the KSDP submitted by the State Party is welcomed. The documents confirm that the project is well advanced even though it has been reduced in scale to comprise four sugar factories (vs five) and the cultivation of 100,000 ha (vs 175,000 ha), yet there has been in increase in the planned access roads (2,610 km) and drainage canals (1,384 km) and secondary and tertiary canals (2,171 km).

The map submitted shows the locations of the factories and, for the first time, the network of roads, canals, villages and towns near the cultivated fields and factories. It also provides the following distances from the three main areas of the property to the currently planned closest farm blocks: 12 km (Kibish), 31 km (Shungura) and 35 km (Usno). The map does not provide details of ancillary development near the property linked to the main project such as feeder roads, supplementary settlements or extraction areas for building materials.

It is recommended that the Committee regret the fact that the necessary impact assessments have not been carried out in a timely manner regardless of the project’s advanced stage.

The HIA submitted by the State Party in June 2017 concluded that the proposed project would not have a significant negative impact on the Paleo-anthropological and archaeological attributes of the property. However, it is not clear on what basis such conclusions were reached. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to augment the HIA by including the full details of the KSDP and taking into account ICOMOS’ Technical Review of November 2017.

The EIA scoping study reports that the project has received the full consent of the residents in the project area, as a result of consultations held with the local communities, which are primarily pastoralists, as a part of a villagization programme in conjunction with the Ethiopian Sugar Corporation. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit the outcomes of the consultations for review by the Advisory Bodies.

The EIA scoping study does not adequately address all the potential impacts of the KSDP on the property. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to ensure that the EIA strengthens the analysis of indirect impacts on cultural aspects, in particular from ancillary projects associated with the main project, and examines all potential impacts of the project on the Lake Turkana National Parks World Heritage property in Kenya and the Lower Valley of the Omo World Heritage property in Ethiopia and their settings, in line with the IUCN and ICOMOS guidelines on impact assessments, and be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies. The above-mentioned HIA should be integrated within the EIA.

Although the last Committee Decision (41 COM 7B.68) did not address the issue of the SEA to assess the potential cumulative impacts of the KSDP and all major development projects on the Lake Turkana basin, including on both Lower Valley of the Omo and Lake Turkana World Heritage properties, which has been requested from the States Parties of Ethiopia and Kenya since 2012 (Decisions 36 COM 7B.3, 39 COM 7B.4 and 40 COM 7B.80), it is of deep concern that the State Party provides insufficient information on the status of this SEA, while moving on with further developments. A SEA should precede any developments and should have been completed prior to detailed impact assessments of individual projects. It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Parties of Ethiopia and Kenya to undertake the long-overdue SEA, without further delay, in order to assess the potential impacts of these projects and to identify urgently needed mitigation measures.

It is also regrettable that the Ethiopian Mapping Agency has not completed the boundary work undertaken as part of the EU-funded project despite the Committee’s request to give priority to this matter. It is recommended that the Committee request that the boundary work be urgently progressed in order to underpin the HIA and the Management Plan of the property, and that a draft proposal for boundaries be submitted for review by the Advisory Bodies before any decisions are made.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2018
42 COM 7B.44
Lower Valley of the Omo (Ethiopia) (C 17)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.3, 39 COM 7B.4, 40 COM 7B.80, 41 COM 7B.68, adopted at its 36th (Saint Petersburg, 2012), 39th (Bonn, 2015), 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the updated information on the Kuraz Sugar Development project (KSDP) submitted by the State Party and notes that the project is well advanced and has been reduced in scale to four sugar factories with sugar cultivation of 100,000 ha, but that there has been in increase in access roads, drainage canals and secondary and tertiary canals;
  4. Also notes that no details have been provided on ancillary development near the property linked to the main project, such as feeder roads, supplementary settlements or areas of extraction for construction materials; and requests the State Party to provide these;
  5. Regrets that the adequate impact assessments have not yet been carried out in a timely manner, and requests the State Party to augment the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) carried out in June 2017 by including the full details of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the KSDP and its ancillary projects by taking into account ICOMOS’ Technical Review of November 2017; and to update the existing HIA with the results of the proposed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA);
  6. Further notes that the EIA scoping study reports that the project has received the full consent of the residents as a result of consultations held with the local communities about the project concerned in conjunction with the Ethiopian Sugar Corporation; and requests the State Party to submit the outcomes of the consultations held for the EIA on KSDP for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Considers that the EIA scoping study does not adequately address the full potential impacts of the KSDP on the property and its setting, and requests the State Party to strengthen the analysis of indirect impacts on cultural aspects, in particular from new ancillary projects associated with the main project, and to examine all potential impacts of the project on Lower Valley of the Omo and its setting, in line with the ICOMOS guidelines on impact assessments, and to submit this to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  8. Notes furthermore the progress with the EU-funded boundary project, but expresses concern that the boundary work has not been completed by the Ethiopian Mapping Agency, and requests moreover the State Party to give priority to progressing this work, which is needed to underpin the HIA, and the Management Plan of the property, and to submit draft boundary proposals to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before any decisions are made;
  9. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, a progress report and, by 1 December 2019, 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 44th session in 2020.
Draft Decision: 42 COM 7B.44

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.3, 39 COM 7B.4, 40 COM 7B.80, 41 COM 7B.68, adopted at its 36th (Saint Petersburg, 2012), 39th (Bonn, 2015), 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the updated information on the Kuraz Sugar Development project (KSDP) submitted by the State Party and notes that the project is well advanced and has been reduced in scale to four sugar factories with sugar cultivation of 100,000 ha, but that there has been in increase in access roads, drainage canals and secondary and tertiary canals;
  4. Also notes that no details have been provided on ancillary development near the property linked to the main project, such as feeder roads, supplementary settlements or areas of extraction for construction materials; and requests the State Party to provide these;
  5. Regrets that the adequate impact assessments have not yet been carried out in a timely manner regardless of the project’s advanced stage, and also requests the State Party to augment the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) carried out in June 2017 by including the full details of the KSDP and its ancillary projects and taking into account ICOMOS’ Technical Review of November 2017; and to integrate the HIA within the proposed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA);
  6. Further notes that the EIA scoping study reports that the project has received the full consent of the residents as a result of consultations held with the local communities as part of a villagization programme in conjunction with the Ethiopian Sugar Corporation; and further requests the State Party to submit the outcomes of the consultations for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Considers that the EIA scoping study does not adequately address the full potential impacts of the KSDP on the property and its setting, and requests furthermore the State Party to strengthen the analysis of indirect impacts on cultural aspects, in particular from new ancillary projects associated with the main project, and to examine all potential impacts of the project on both Lower Valley of the Omo and Lake Turkana National Parks World Heritage properties and their settings, in line with the IUCN and ICOMOS guidelines on impact assessments, and to submit these to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  8. Expresses its deep concern that the State Party, while progressing the KSDP project, has provided insufficient information on the status of the SEA that was requested by the Committee from the States Parties of Ethiopia and Kenya since 2012 (Decision 36 COM 7B.11, 39 COM 7B.4 and 40 COM 7B.80), to assess the potential cumulative impacts of the KSDP and other development projects in Ethiopia and Kenya on the Lake Turkana basin, including the Lake Turkana in Kenya and the Lower Valley of the Omo in Ethiopia, as a precursor to detailed impact assessments of individual projects; and urges the State Parties of Ethiopia and Kenya to undertake the long-overdue Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) without further delay in order to assess the potential impacts of these projects and to identify urgently needed mitigation measures;
  9. Notes furthermore the progress with the EU-funded boundary project, but expresses concern that the boundary work has not been completed by the Ethiopian Mapping Agency, and requests moreover the State Party to give priority to progressing this work, which is needed to underpin the HIA, EIA and SEA, and the Management Plan of the property, and to submit draft boundary proposals to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before any decisions are made;
  10. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, a progress report and, by 1 December 2019, 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 44th session in 2020.
Report year: 2018
Ethiopia
Date of Inscription: 1980
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2018) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 42COM (2018)
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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