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    2016-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

In progress

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see page  https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6678   

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

In progress

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/116/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1981-2020)
Total amount approved: USD 115,119
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 83,147. (Netherlands Funds-in-Trust); USD 71,090 (Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation); 75,000 Euros (Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation);

Previous monitoring missions

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

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 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:

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

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.

Decision Adopted: 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;
  10. Decides to retain Old Towns of Djenné (Mali) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 8C.2

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: