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Old Towns of Djenné

Mali
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Civil unrest
  • Housing
  • Land conversion
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Solid waste
  • Other Threats:

    Deterioration of dwellings

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • No management and conservation plan
  • Pressure from urban development
  • Deterioration of dwellings
  • Waste disposal problems
  • Encroachment of the archaeological sites
  • Instable security situation
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Serious deterioration of materials in the historic town and continued decay at the archaeological sites
  • Inappropriate interventions
  • Erosion of the architectural coherence of the town
  • Lack of enforcement and implementation of regulatory and planning tools
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

In progress

Corrective Measures for the property
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

In progress

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2021

Total amount granted: USD 110,000 (Italian Funds-in-Trust); USD 23,100 (Croisi Europe); USD 86,900 (European Commission); USD 83,147. (Netherlands Funds-in-Trust); USD 71,090 (Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation); 75,000 Euros (Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation);

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 7 (from 1981-2020)
Total amount approved : 115,119 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

2002, 2005: World Heritage Centre missions; 2006: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission; 2014, 2016: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring missions; April 2017: UNESCO Expert mission to assess the state of conservation of Mali's World Heritage properties

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 28 January 2020, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report on the property, available at https://whc.unesco.org/, followed by additional information on 26 February 2020, providing the following information:

  • Awareness-raising of the population continues through radio broadcasts and meetings, clarifying the role of each actor and correcting the false impression that funding for conservation measures rests with UNESCO. This has encouraged an increase of rough-rendering activities of the houses, organized by the owners themselves;
  • Following the installation of solar electrification in the Djenné Grand Mosque, financed by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), a study on collateral effects of the increase in the numbers of worshippers is foreseen. The construction of two new mosques in the new districts of Dontémé and Tolober, will make it possible to accommodate some of the faithful living outside the old fabric of the town;
  • A concern is the maintenance of houses in the old urban fabric, some of which are collapsing, suffering in particular from disagreements between heirs and members of the owner families;
  • In addition, the use of cement is becoming fashionable to repair cracks or to rough-render the side exposed to rain. An awareness-raising effort was launched on the incoherence between the use of earth and cement;
  • The inventory of abandoned and dilapidated houses continues with a district-by-district survey, mobilizing, in particular, the unemployed youth of each district;
  • A maintenance manual for houses, aimed at the partners and owners, will be prepared, taking into consideration technical and financial aspects;
  • The lack of security continues to encourage illegal excavating and prevents reinforcement of surveillance of the sites. However, the sale of archaeological objects is almost inexistent due to the absence of tourists, discouraging many looters. More legal measures against looting and the installation of fencing preventing access by animals and people, are in preparation;
  • Updating of the mapping will shortly be completed;
  • Modifications and earthen brick covering of the buildings are on the increase and solid buildings are built over the old fabric. In one case, legal proceedings were instigated against the owners by a bailiff:
  • Various problems previously identified, such as lime decorations on houses by young people, publicity on walls, or the presence of sheet or tin sheds remain unresolved. Following consultations with the different actors concerned, solutions are envisaged, such as the creation of kiosks in recyclable material and the manufacture of advertising tarpaulins;
  • Information provided in the state of conservation report on Askia Tomb (Mali): Steps have been undertaken with the International Blue Shield Committee for the implementation of a National Blue Shield Committee in Mali to strengthen the management capacities of cultural heritage and the protection of all the cultural properties in Mali.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

The report submitted by the State Party demonstrates the evident strong mobilization of the Cultural Mission to raise local community awareness of conservation and management aspects of the site, notably the role of the different actors, including UNESCO, where misunderstanding caused some negligence in the maintenance of the houses. These efforts, carried out without sufficient financial means and in the context of adversity, causing concern due to continuing insecurity, are commendable.

It is crucial to pursue this awareness-raising work that is proving essential to respond to the current challenges that comprise specific concerns, in particular the maintenance of banco houses by the owner families. In the face of misunderstandings between family members regarding respective responsibilities impeding this maintenance, it is important to encourage the families concerned to find a common ground by making them aware of the significant heritage conservation issues at stake, without interference in private affairs by the Cultural Mission.

Moreover, the use of cement, the modifications and earthen brick coverings or the construction of solid buildings are also noted with concern. The application of heritage standards protecting the integrity and authenticity of the property is therefore urgent, and the State Party should be encouraged to strengthen communication regarding heritage standards to be respected, especially by accelerating the preparation of a maintenance manual for the houses and to submit the draft publication to the World Heritage Centre for revision by the Advisory Bodies. The detailed inventory of the Old Town as a basis for monitoring and identifying urgent actions is indispensable.

The Spanish Agency for Cooperation is to be commended for providing funding enabling the electrification of the Djenné Grand Mosque, and for granting additional funds in 2021 to pursue the inventory work, conservation work on the Grand Mosque and rehabilitation of the Moroccan Palace. Also, it is appropriate to commend a new contribution from the European Union for the “Safeguarding Project for the Enhancement of Cultural Heritage of Mali 2019-2020”, with the objective of rehabilitating several monumental houses.

Furthermore, in this respect, the World Heritage Centre has developed, and committed funding, to a remote support programme for the preparation of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR). The programme is foreseen to begin during 2020 with the aim of submitting the DSOCR for approval by the Committee at its 45th session in 2021.

Special recognition goes to the emphasis on the mobilisation of the unemployed youth for the inventory work and for the awareness-raising efforts to halt the lime decorations on the banco houses.

Unfortunately, there remains concern linked to illegal excavations, although often superficial, at the four archaeological sites at Djenné, this, also due to the fact that the surveillance has insufficient means available. Although it is reassuring that the absence of tourists discourages illegal excavations, thus reducing the traffic of illegal objects, additional and strengthened measures must be taken for long-lasting security of the sites.

Taking into consideration the continued lack of security, despite progress achieved, it is recommended that the World Heritage Committee maintain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7A.1
Old Towns of Djenné (Mali) (C 116rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7A.53, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Expresses its satisfaction with regard to the important measures undertaken by the State Party to raise awareness in the local community, and more particularly the owners of the houses, on the conservation and management aspects of the site, notably the role of the different actors, including UNESCO, and requests the State Party to:
    1. Pursue this awareness-raising work, notably to strengthen and promote maintenance of the banco houses by the owner families,
    2. Accelerate the preparation of a maintenance manual for the houses and to submit the draft publication to the World Heritage Centre for revision by the Advisory Bodies,
    3. Provide all assistance to the finalisation of the detailed inventory of the old town as a basis for the monitoring and identification of the urgent actions;
  4. Congratulates the State Party, more especially the Cultural Mission, for the mobilisation of the unemployed youth by associating them with the activities of the built heritage inventory and awareness-raising;
  5. Notes with appreciation the financial contributions from the Spanish Agency for Cooperation and the European Union to pursue the conservation actions for the Djenné Grand Mosque and the inventory, and to carry out rehabilitation work at the Moroccan Palace and monumental houses;
  6. Expresses its concern regarding the maintenance practices of the banco houses using cement, modifications and coverings in earthen brick, as well as the construction of solid  buildings likely to negatively impact the integrity and authenticity of the property, and also encourages the State Party to strengthen the enforcement of the heritage standards through communication channels, and accelerate the preparation of a maintenance manual for the houses and to submit the draft publication to the World Heritage Centre for revision by the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Expresses its concern with regard to the illegal excavations at the four archaeological sites, in part due to the insufficient means of surveillance and continuing insecurity, and also requests that additional and strengthened measures be taken for the long-term security of the site;
  8. Notes with appreciation the initiation of a remote support programme for the preparation of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR);
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, 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 45th session;
  10. Decides to retain Old Towns of Djenné (Mali) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
44 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/21/44.COM/7A, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2.Add),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 44 COM 7A.28)
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 44 COM 7A.29)
  • Austria, Historic Centre of Vienna (Decision 44 COM 7A.32)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 44 COM 7A.35)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.39)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.40)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.41)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.42)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.43)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.45)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 44 COM 7A.5)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.55)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 44 COM 7A.52)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 44 COM 7A.6)
  • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 44 COM 7A.7)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 44 COM 7A.8)
  • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 44 COM 7A.10)
  • Kenya, Lake Turkana National Parks (Decision 44 COM 7A.47)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 44 COM 7A.11)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 44 COM 7A.12)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 44 COM 7A.13)
  • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 44 COM 7A.14)
  • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 44 COM 7A.15)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 44 COM 7A.48)
  • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 44 COM 7A.1)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 44 COM 7A.2)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 44 COM 7A.3)
  • Mexico, Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California (Decision 44 COM 7B.56)
  • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 44 COM 7A.30)
  • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 44 COM 7A.49)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 44 COM 7A.17)
  • Palestine, Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (Decision 44 COM 7A.16)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 44 COM 7A.36)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 44 COM 7A.37)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.50)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 44 COM 7A.33)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 44 COM 7A.53)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 44 COM 7A.18)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 44 COM 7A.19)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 44 COM 7A.20)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 44 COM 7A.21)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 44 COM 7A.22)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 44 COM 7A.23)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 44 COM 7A.4)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.51)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.54)
  • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 44 COM 7A.31)
  • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 44 COM 7A.38)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 44 COM 7A.25)
  • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 44 COM 7A.26)
  • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 44 COM 7A.27).
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7A.1

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7A.53, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Expresses its satisfaction with regard to the important measures undertaken by the State Party to raise awareness in the local community, and more particularly the owners of the houses, on the conservation and management aspects of the site, notably the role of the different actors, including UNESCO, and requests the State Party to:
    1. Pursue this awareness-raising work, notably to strengthen and promote maintenance of the banco houses by the owner families,
    2. Accelerate the preparation of a maintenance manual for the houses and to submit the draft publication to the World Heritage Centre for revision by the Advisory Bodies,
    3. Provide all assistance to the finalisation of the detailed inventory of the old town as a basis for the monitoring and identification of the urgent actions;
  4. Congratulates the State Party, more especially the Cultural Mission, for the mobilisation of the unemployed youth by associating them with the activities of the built heritage inventory and awareness-raising;
  5. Notes with appreciation the financial contributions from the Spanish Agency for Cooperation and the European Union to pursue the conservation actions for the Djenné Grand Mosque and the inventory, and to carry out rehabilitation work at the Moroccan Palace and monumental houses;
  6. Expresses its concern regarding the maintenance practices of the banco houses using cement, modifications and coverings in earthen brick, as well as the construction of solid buildings likely to negatively impact the integrity and authenticity of the property, and also encourages the State Party to strengthen the enforcement of the heritage standards through communication channels, and accelerate the preparation of a maintenance manual for the houses and to submit the draft publication to the World Heritage Centre for revision by the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Expresses its concern with regard to the illegal excavations at the four archaeological sites, in part due to the insufficient means of surveillance and continuing insecurity, and also requests that additional and strengthened measures be taken for the long-term security of the site;
  8. Notes with appreciation the initiation of a remote support programme for the preparation of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR);
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, 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 45th session in 2022;
  10. Decides to retain Old Towns of Djenné (Mali) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2021
Mali
Date of Inscription: 1988
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)
Danger List (dates): 2016-present
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2020) .pdf
Initialy proposed for examination in 2020
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
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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