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Historic Town of Grand-Bassam

Côte d'Ivoire
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Financial resources
  • Housing
  • Human resources
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Management system to be strengthened (need to specify the limits of the property for the land parts by following the cadastral limits, to extend the limits of the unified buffer zone at the level of the Petit Paris district and the lighthouse, to strengthen the practical and operational dimension of the Conservation and Management Plan for the property, to define operational monitoring indicators corresponding to precise, periodic and quantified actions)
  • Legal framework to be strengthened (need to clarify the situation of land ownership)
  • Insufficient human resources (need to strengthen and specify the human resources available to the Local Committee and/or the House of Cultural Heritage)
  • Management activities to be strengthened (need to inscribe all the "buildings of heritage interest" of the property on the National Cultural Heritage List, to confirm the suspensive role of the opinions of the House of Cultural Heritage in the functioning of the Building Permits Commission of Grand-Bassam, for the conservation of the property, to confirm incentives for the restoration and conservation of private buildings)
  • Insufficient financial resources
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2021

Total amount granted: USD 57,734 from the France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement; USD 106,400 from the government of Norway in 2020

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 1 (from 2015-2020)
Total amount approved : 5,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

2013 and 2014: Technical assistance missions in the framework of the Convention France-UNESCO for management in 2013 and restoration of the ancient Palace of Justice in 2014 ; Technical Assistance mission for the AfriCAP2016 project financed by the European Union in the framework of the ACP Cultures+ Programme; 2019: Emergency mission of UNESCO experts following the floods that occurred on the site in October 2019 financed by the Emergency Heritage Fund

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 31 January 2020, following the floods of October 2019 and in response to the letter from the World Heritage Centre of 8 November 2019, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1322/documents/ and informing that:

  • In October 2019, heavy rainfall causing flooding of the Comoé River and its tributaries (Ebrié and Ouladine lagoons) caused flooding affecting the village of N’zima and producing material damage;
  • The State Party has put in place a crisis management system, launched work to reopen the mouth of the river, relocated the affected populations, and submitted a request for assistance to UNESCO for an emergency mission under the Heritage Emergency Fund;
  • The observed impact of the floods on the property is, in particular:
  • The architecture was the most affected, with 17 historic monuments inundated and the foundations and terraces fully submerged, making regular monitoring and a comprehensive restoration plan necessary once the waters have receded,
  • The environmental and landscape value at the lagoon has been affected (reduction of navigation and fishing activities), as has the site of the river mouth (its obstruction aggravating the resurgence of floods),
  • The celebration of Abissa was twice postponed and its sacred grove was flooded. The N’zima community responded to the crisis with traditional management through rituals aimed at initiating the recession of the waters of the Ouladine lagoon;
  • Malfunctions in the management of the property are expressed in particular by the acceleration of the degradation of heritage buildings, delays in the restoration of emblematic buildings, and non-compliance with construction procedures;
  • Public/private partnerships for the restoration of buildings are encouraged, as with Société Générale (transformation of the former post and customs hotel into a space dedicated to art with the partner's commitment to restore and maintain it, financial support for the rehabilitation of a historic building which will house the Cultural Heritage House);
  • The updating of the Conservation and Management Plan for the property, including a disaster risk management plan, is underway;
  • An action plan has been prepared by UNESCO to support the State Party in its new strategy for the development and conservation of the town.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

In addition to the State Party report, this analysis is based on that of the emergency mission of November 2019 (submitted in March 2020), which explains the origin of the floods of October 2019 and assesses their impacts.

Although the floods did not affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, they nevertheless highlighted weaknesses inherent in its conservation and management, in particular risk management.

The responsiveness of the State Party following the floods is to be welcomed, in particular by putting in place a crisis management system, relocating the affected populations and requesting the organization of a UNESCO emergency mission. The reopening of the mouth of the Comoé River, initiated on 11 November 2019, is very timely.

This project is part of the Safeguarding and Enhancement of the Cocody Bay and Ebrié Lagoon project (PABC), financed by the State Party with the support of donors. It is regrettable that this project, which may affect the OUV of the property, was not previously presented to the World Heritage Centre in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. It includes in particular the construction of dikes which, although providing a solution to flooding, could affect the ecosystem of the property and its environmental and landscape qualities. It is recommended that the State Party submit the project to the World Heritage Centre in order to adapt the approach to the recommendations of the mission report, in particular for the dikes project, for evaluation by the Advisory Bodies. Furthermore, according to the mission report, the civil engineering work also planned by the PABC would have a height that could cause a break in scale with that of the houses in the non-parceled-out area of the village located nearby. It should be the subject of a visual and heritage impact study.

The degradation of several heritage buildings is worrying, such as the courthouse, the lighthouse or the former post and customs hotel. Cooperation initiatives taken for the restoration of heritage, in particular through public/private partnership agreements, are welcomed, but they must be planned in such a way as to favour grouped operations, and reinforced by actions such as consolidating and updating the inventory of existing heritage, establishing in-depth architectural and cultural diagnoses, strengthening the monitoring and control of town planning and construction rules and the application of regulations by all actors, capacity building of professionals and establishment of a monitoring committee for restoration work.

These actions must be coordinated by the Heritage House, the main body for the management of the property, to which it is important to give more resources and to relocate in a heritage building, giving it an emblematic and exemplary character. In addition, the draft revision of the conservation and management plan (including a risk management plan) is to be welcomed and its prompt finalization encouraged.

It should be noted that the Government of Norway has approved funding of USD 106,400 for a programme to support the preservation of the site, including in particular the inventory work, the finalization of the management plan and the revision and publication of an interventions guide on the site. These measures, in addition to strengthening the management and conservation of the property, are expected to improve the disaster risk management.

Finally, the crisis has demonstrated the strength of the intangible heritage of the N’zima as a vector of resilience to be safeguarded and promoted.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.2
Historic Town of Grand-Bassam (Côte d’Ivoire) (C 1322rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.67, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Welcomes the State Party's reactivity following the floods, by putting in place a crisis management system, by relocating the affected populations and by requesting the organization of a UNESCO emergency mission;
  4. Notes the implementation of the project to reopen the Comoé River as part of the project to safeguard and enhance the Cocody bay and the Ebrié lagoon (PABC), regrets that this project was not submitted to the World Heritage Centre in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and requests the State Party to submit the PABC to the World Heritage Centre, as soon as possible, for review by the Advisory Bodies so that solutions can be found to adapt the approach to the recommendations provided in the report of the emergency mission of October 2019, and more particularly to:
    1. Submit to the World Heritage Centre, before any intervention, the dykes project with its different height scenarios for evaluation by the Advisory Bodies,
    2. Carry out a visual and heritage impact study of the civil engineering project planned for a height of 6 metres;
  5. Expresses its deep concern at the acceleration of the degradation of the state of conservation of several heritage buildings, including the courthouse, the lighthouse and the former post and customs hotel and, while welcoming the cooperation initiatives taken by the State Party in favour of heritage restoration, in particular through public/private partnership agreements, also requests the State Party to:
    1. Consider these initiatives in a planned manner, with particular emphasis on group operations,
    2. Strengthen these initiatives by:
      1. Consolidation and updating of the inventory of existing heritage,
      2. Establishment of in-depth architectural and cultural diagnoses,
      3. Strengthening of the monitoring and control of town planning and construction rules and the application of regulations by all concerned public and private actors,
      4. Capacity building for heritage and construction professionals,
      5. Establishment of a monitoring committee for restoration work;
  6. Further requests the State Party to strengthen the management of the site, by giving more resources to the Heritage House and to relocate it in a heritage building, thus giving it an emblematic and exemplary character at the heart of the site;
  7. Also welcomes the draft revision of the conservation and management plan (including a risk management plan) and encourages the State Party to finalize it;
  8. Thanks the Government of Norway for its financial support for the implementation of a support programme for the preservation of the property, which includes in particular the inventory work, the finalization of the management plan, the revision and publication of an interventions guide on the property and the establishment of a monitoring committee for restoration work;
  9. Also encourages the State Party to strengthen measures to safeguard and promote the intangible heritage of the N'zima community;
  10. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 46th session.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.67, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Welcomes the State Party's reactivity following the floods, by putting in place a crisis management system, by relocating the affected populations and by requesting the organization of a UNESCO emergency mission;
  4. Notes the implementation of the project to reopen the Comoé River as part of the project to safeguard and enhance the Cocody bay and the Ebrié lagoon (PABC), regrets that this project was not submitted to the World Heritage Centre in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and requests the State Party to submit the PABC to the World Heritage Centre, as soon as possible, for review by the Advisory Bodies so that solutions can be found to adapt the approach to the recommendations provided in the report of the emergency mission of October 2019, and more particularly to:
    1. Submit to the World Heritage Centre, before any intervention, the dykes project with its different height scenarios for evaluation by the Advisory Bodies,
    2. Carry out a visual and heritage impact study of the civil engineering project planned for a height of 6 metres;
  5. Expresses its deep concern at the acceleration of the degradation of the state of conservation of several heritage buildings, including the courthouse, the lighthouse and the former post and customs hotel and, while welcoming the cooperation initiatives taken by the State Party in favour of heritage restoration, in particular through public/private partnership agreements, also requests the State Party to:
    1. Consider these initiatives in a planned manner, with particular emphasis on group operations,
    2. Strengthen these initiatives by:
      1. Consolidation and updating of the inventory of existing heritage,
      2. Establishment of in-depth architectural and cultural diagnoses,
      3. Strengthening of the monitoring and control of town planning and construction rules and the application of regulations by all concerned public and private actors,
      4. Capacity building for heritage and construction professionals,
      5. Establishment of a monitoring committee for restoration work;
  6. Further requests the State Party to strengthen the management of the site, by giving more resources to the Heritage House and to relocate it in a heritage building, thus giving it an emblematic and exemplary character at the heart of the site;
  7. Also welcomes the draft revision of the conservation and management plan (including a risk management plan) and encourages the State Party to finalize it;
  8. Thanks the Government of Norway for its financial support for the implementation of a support programme for the preservation of the property, which includes in particular the inventory work, the finalization of the management plan, the revision and publication of an interventions guide on the property and the establishment of a monitoring committee for restoration work;
  9. Also encourages the State Party to strengthen measures to safeguard and promote the intangible heritage of the N'zima community;
  10. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 46th session, in 2023.
Report year: 2021
Côte d'Ivoire
Date of Inscription: 2012
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)
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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