1.         Lower Valley of the Omo (Ethiopia) (C 17)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1980

Criteria  (iii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/17/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1996-2015)
Total amount approved: USD 17,018
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/17/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

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

Previous monitoring missions

April 2015: Joint UNESCO/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/17/

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:

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

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.

Decision Adopted: 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.