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Lower Valley of the Omo

Ethiopia
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Erosion and siltation/ deposition
  • Housing
  • Industrial areas
  • Land conversion
  • Management systems/ management plan
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 2021

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

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 2 (from 1996-2015)
Total amount approved : 17,018 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**
April 2015: Joint UNESCO/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 28 November 2019, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/documents/180126, which presents the current situation in a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its 42nd session, as follows:

  • Details on the ancillary development activities near the property linked to the main project have been indicated in a map submitted in 2018. Due to the reduction of the size of Karaz Sugar Development Project (KSDP), the number of the associated factories are reduced and road networks decreased. Only 300 ha of land are designated for the construction of factories and camps. 1.076 houses are built and 2.610 Kilometre access roads will be constructed;
  • In view of a major decision to hand over the KSDP to private sector, a new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been commissioned and its report in expected is January 2020. The State Party has requested an extension of the timeline for the submission of the EIA over KSDP;
  • With the outcome of the new EIA, the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) conducted in 2017 will be augmented and updated;
  • Concerning the proposal for boundaries being carried out under EU-funded project, the State Party is working towards the creation of the cadastre system and digital maps of the property and its buffer zone to be submitted for approval;
  • A draft Management Plan (developed under EU-funded project) has been submitted in 2019 for which feedback has been provided. The State Party is currently in the process of integrating the feedback received in in November 2019 from the Advisory Bodies and finalising the Plan.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

With regard to the details of the ancillary development activities requested by the Committee, the State Party refers to the detailed map provided in 2018 and suggests that the project will have less impact on the World Heritage Site because from 100 000 ha of the KSDP only 42 000ha of the project is located near the Site. In addition, the scope of the of KSDP and the number of the associated factories have been reduced and finally the 300 ha of land for construction are very far (35 Km) from the Site with a buffer zone area free of industrial activities. But no further details have been provided such as the alignment of the feeder roads and how these relate to the property and its setting. The Impact of these activities cannot be assessed without these details and outcome of the EIA and the updated and augmented HIA. 

Instead of revisiting/improving the EIA and the HIA, as requested by the Committee, the State Party has instituted a completely new EIA. This has been based on a new strategic decision taken by the government to hand over the Sugar Plantation project to the private sector. With this major change in mind, and prior to transmission of the project to the private sector, the government has commissioned a new and comprehensive Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) from an independent consultant. This report, which was due end of January 2020, is yet to be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies. In this regard, the State Party of Ethiopia makes no reference to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which was to assess potential impacts of the Gibe III dam and Kuraz project on the Lake Turkana basin, for which, 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. It has given however assurances that no new activities will be carried out until the EIA is completed. Pending the outcome of this review, the State Party has also delayed the update and augmentation of the HIA submitted earlier on which ICOMOS has provided a technical review in 2017.  It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to provide these details without further delay. 

Although the State Party has made some progress with regard to the boundaries, it is regrettable that a draft proposal has not been completed and submitted for review, as requested by the Committee. It is reported that a buffer zone, free of ancillary development activities has been created between the property and the development activities in the area, but no details have been provided as to its scope and extent and these cannot be precisely defined in advance of the property boundaries being finalised and approved.

Progress has been made with regard to the development of the Management Plan and a draft was submitted in 2019, on which the State Party received a feedback in November 2019. It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to finalise the Management Plan taking into consideration the feedback provided and start its implementation.

Although the last two Committee decisions (41 COM 7B.68 and 42 COM 7B.44) did not address the issue of the Strategic Impact Assessment (SEA) to assess the potential impact of KSDP and its development activities on the Lake Turkana basin, 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 regrettable that the State Party has not provided any information. It is important that the States Parties of Ethiopia and Kenya are continuing their dialogue to undertake this long-overdue SEA, without further delay.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.4
Lower Valley of the Omo (Ethiopia) (C 17)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 41 COM 7B.68 and 42 COM 7B.44, adopted at its 36th (Saint Petersburg, 2012), 39th (Bonn, 2015), 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016), 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the updated information on the Kuraz Sugar Development project (KSDP) submitted by the State Party and notes that substantial progress has not been made;
  4. Notes that quantitative details have been provided on ancillary development near the property linked to the main project, but in order to assess their impacts on Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and requests the State Party to submit the full details together with the outcomes of the new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the updated Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA);
  5. Regrets that that a draft proposal for boundary delineation that is being developed as part of the EU-funded projects has not been completed and submitted for review, as requested by the Committee, and urges the State Party to give priority to this crucial element that is needed to inform the Management Plan and the development of a buffer zone and to submit draft boundary proposals to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before any decisions are made;
  6. Also notes that a new Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) has been commissioned and that its outcome was due in January 2020, and also requests the State Party to submit the report, together with the community consultation processes that have been followed, without further delay to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Further requests the State Party to update and augment the HIA taking into account new ancillary developments and their impacts on OUV of the property and ICOMOS’ Technical Review of November 2017;
  8. Further notes progress with the development of the EU-funded Management Plan and requests furthermore the State Party to finalize the Plan based on feedback received, obtain approval from relevant authorities and start implementation;
  9. Also urges the State Party, in collaboration with the State Party of Kenya, to progress the development of a Strategic Impact Assessment (SEA) for assessing the potential impacts of the KSDP and its development activities on the Lake Turkana basin, as requested by the Committee since 2012;
  10. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, an updated report by 1 December 2022, 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.4

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 41 COM 7B.68 and 42 COM 7B.44, adopted at its 36th (Saint Petersburg, 2012), 39th (Bonn, 2015), 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016), 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the updated information on the Kuraz Sugar Development project (KSDP) submitted by the State Party and notes that substantial progress has not been made;
  4. Notes that quantitative details have been provided on ancillary development near the property linked to the main project, but in order to assess their impacts on Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and requests the State Party to submit the full details together with the outcomes of the new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the updated Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA);
  5. Regrets that that a draft proposal for boundary delineation that is being developed as part of the EU-funded projects has not been completed and submitted for review, as requested by the Committee, and urges the State Party to give priority to this crucial element that is needed to inform the Management Plan and the development of a buffer zone and to submit draft boundary proposals to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before any decisions are made;
  6. Also notes that a new Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) has been commissioned and that its outcome was due in January 2020, and also requests the State Party to submit the report, together with the community consultation processes that have been followed, without further delay to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Further requests the State Party to update and augment the HIA taking into account new ancillary developments and their impacts on OUV of the property and ICOMOS’ Technical Review of November 2017;
  8. Further notes progress with the development of the EU-funded Management Plan and requests furthermore the State Party to finalize the Plan based on feedback received, obtain approval from relevant authorities and start implementation;
  9. Also urges the State Party, in collaboration with the State Party of Kenya, to progress the development of a Strategic Impact Assessment (SEA) for assessing the potential impacts of the KSDP and its development activities on the Lake Turkana basin, as requested by the Committee since 2012;
  10. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, an updated report by 1 December 2022, 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
Ethiopia
Date of Inscription: 1980
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2019) .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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