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Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons)

Mali
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Civil unrest
  • Financial resources
  • Illegal activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Intercommunity conflict between the Dogons and the Fulani

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Insufficient site management means
  • Illicit trafficking of cultural property
  • Instable security situation
  • Intercommunity conflict between the Dogons and the Fulani
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2021

Total amount granted: in 2020, US$ 984,818 by the International Alliance for Heritage Protection in Conflict Areas (ALIPH) for the "Reconstruction and Rehabilitation of the Built Heritage of Bandiagara"

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 9 (from 1988-2018)
Total amount approved : 124,444 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**
July 2019: Needs assessment mission on the built and intangible cultural heritage as well as objects and practices associated with the Cliffs of Bandiagara (joint Mali-UNESCO mission), conducted in the framework of the UNESCO Emergency Heritage Fund.
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 29 November 2019, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report on the property, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list516/documents/, followed, on 28 January 2020, by additional information and documents providing the following information: 

  • Since 2012, the property and its population have been greatly affected by armed intercommunity tension and conflict between the Dogons and the Fulani. Tension has worsened since 2019, leading to numerous executions: murderous attacks, destruction of entire villages and Toguna (communal meeting places), millet granaries and buildings set on fire, cattle stolen, movable property destroyed or seized as war booty, thus obliging the communities to abandon their villages. The State Party presents a table summarising the incidents noted in the communities and villages within and around the property;
  • Faced with this crisis, an “Evaluation Mission on the relative needs of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage, including the objects and practices associated with the Cliff of Bandiagara”, comprising Malian experts, was sent in July 2019 and funded under UNESCO World Heritage Emergency Funds. The mission report, available at http://who.unesco.org/en/list/516/documents, contains the conclusions and recommendations regarding the safeguarding of movable, immovable and intangible heritage as well as an Emergency Action Plan;
  • Concerning the intangible heritage, the report notes the cessation or rarity of cultural events, notably affecting the cyclic ritual ceremonies, both pastoral (transhumance) and agrarian (agrarian, funeral, religious, social traditional rituals, etc.) as well as cultural practices associated with the regulation of society. For example, the “Yaaral@Degal” element inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, will not be celebrated for at least five years;
  • Activities carried out with International Assistance granted in 2018 have enabled the restoration of the site of Sessé and the Pelou “gin’na (large family house), the inventory of movable and immovable property at the site and the restoration of gin’nas, and to raise public awareness of the need for heritage protection through theatrical means and cultural events, including heritage educational sessions in schools in three localities;
  • Efforts to closely involve local communities continue. Support from the Dogon Initiative Association (ADI) has enabled the restoration and maintenance of gin’na and houses in several villages, and heritage education actions, notably through a training project for young people, teaching construction techniques using local materials. The Cultural Mission is involved with partners in Burkina Faso for the preservation of masks;
  • Due to limited financial resources and increasing insecurity, the State Party is appealing to the international community in order to assist in actions to reestablish confidence between the communities, safeguard heritage and cultural diversity, rehabilitate damaged or destroyed cultural property, and improve the living conditions of the local communities by supporting economic recovery’.

The joint UNESCO/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to examine the overall management of the property, requested by the World Heritage Committee in 2016, was not possible due to the instable security situation.  

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

The State Party report and that of the emergency evaluation mission of July 2019, provide substantial information in comprehending both the evolution of the particularly worrying security situation, as highlighted by the Committee at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019), and the actions carried out to ensure the safeguarding of the cultural heritage. It is regrettable that the Reactive Monitoring mission, requested on several occasions by the Committee since 2016, has not yet been implemented due to the instable security situation. The national mission report of July 2019 therefore constitutes at this point, the most complete in situ information on the state of conservation of the cultural values of the property. It should be noted that the mandate of the mission was distinct from that of a UNESCO/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to undertake a complete evaluation of the state of conservation of the cultural values that comprise the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.

The actions of the State Party, through the Cultural Mission of Bandiagara, the local communities and the ADI to ensure the preservation of the property and the safeguarding of the entire rich and living heritage in the face of multiple current adversities, notably through the implementation of International Assistance, are to be commended.

However, the insecurity situation resulting from intercommunity conflicts threaten not only cultural heritage in all its forms, but also damage all aspects of everyday life of the battered communities, often obliged to abandon their villages. It should be noted that the cultural heritage does not appear to be deliberately targeted, but is rather affected as the result of an uncontrollable situation. Indeed, the July 2019 mission recognises in its conclusion that the Cliff of Bandiagara property is on the way to becoming a lawless zone due to the increasing insecurity situation. It emphasises that following the summary evaluation and the rapid diagnosis of the state of conservation of the cultural heritage, it would be appropriate, without exaggeration, to draw the attention to the need for an urgent and efficient implementation of support actions for the property and its inhabitants.

Whilst acknowledging the mobilisation and actions carried out by the State Party and the commitment of all the stakeholders, and the resilience of the Dogon and Péuls communities, the gravity of the threats being faced by the property must be recognised. In the light of this alarming situation, it is important to support the State Party in the implementation of the Emergency Action Plan proposed by the July 2019 mission, to ensure not only the preservation of the movable and immovable heritage, but also to guide actions to secure the zone so that the heritage can serve as a vector for the enhancement of the cultural identities and practices of all the communities that live there, and more particularly in the reconciliation measures between the latter.  In this respect, the approval, in July 2020 by ALIPH of important funding to an amount of USD 984,818 for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the built and tangible heritage (also including cultural objects) is to be especially applauded. This said, recalling that this is a mixed property, it is important that the State Party considers the impacts of insecurity in the context of natural values as well as cultural ones, including all management and intervention decisions. In this event, all emergency action undertaken to protect the cultural heritage (support to agriculture, stone buildings, etc.) should guarantee the protection of natural heritage values.

It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to establish a multidisciplinary working group for a limited period with the capacity to act upon and supervise the implementation of the recommendations of the 2019 mission as well as the Emergency Action Plan, the objectives of which comprise, among others, the rehabilitation of the built heritage and traditional houses that have suffered damage, and the promotion of intercultural dialogue for peace, social cohesion and community living. As regards the types of heritage, such as tangible cultural heritage or the protection of cultural objects, it is recommended that the State Party also consult the Secretariats of other UNESCO Cultural Conventions.      

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.72
Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons) (Mali) (C/N 516)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 42 COM 7B.65 and 43 COM 7.2, adopted respectively at its 42nd (Manama, 2018) and 43rd (Baku, 2019) sessions,
  3. Congratulates the State Party for the actions carried out, through the Cultural Mission of Bandiagara, for the conservation of the property and the safeguarding of certain aspects of the overall rich and living heritage thanks to the International Assistance granted in 2018 and the commitment of the local communities, notably the Dogon Initiative Association (ADI), enabling the restoration and maintenance of some gin’na and various houses, the initiation of an inventory of movable and immovable properties, educational programmes for young people and raising awareness in the population with regard to safeguarding the heritage and the combat against the illicit trafficking of cultural property;
  4. Expresses its grave concern with regard to intercommunity conflict noted within and outside the property between the Dogon and Fulani communities resulting in the destruction of houses and whole villages, granaries and tangible property, animals and harvests, and which constitute an increasing threat to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and deplores in particular the considerable loss of human life, as well as numerous events;
  5. Notes with concern that the joint UNESCO/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to examine the overall management of the property, especially the ways and means to strengthen traditional practices and the diversification of possibilities for sustainable development for the local communities, was not possible due to insecurity problems, and requests the State Party to invite, as soon as circumstances permit, a joint UNESCO/ICOMOS/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to examine the state of conservation of the cultural and natural heritage and the overall management of the property in the context of the current security crisis;
  6. Expresses its satisfaction that an “Evaluation Mission on the Relative Needs of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage, including objects and practices associated with the Cliff of Bandiagara” comprising Malian cultural heritage experts was sent to the property in July 2019, with financial support from the UNESCO World Heritage Emergency Fund, and supports the conclusions and recommendqtions of that mission, as well as the Emergency Action Plan, and calls upon the State Party and the international community to mobilise all necessary means for their implementation;
  7. Welcomes the financial support of the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH) for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the built heritage, including cultural objects, and also requests the State Party to keep it informed of progress in the implementation of activities;
  8. Further requests that the State Party considers the impacts of insecurity in the context of cultural and natural heritage values of this mixed property, including all the management and intervention decisions, ensuring that the emergency actions undertaken can protect the cultural heritage and guarantee the protection of natural heritage values;
  9. Taking into account the current state of the property, that justifies the establishment of a mechanism and specific actions for its preservation, requests moreover that the State Party establish a multidisciplinary working group for a five-year period, with the capacity to act and supervise the implementation of the recommendations and the Emergency Action Plan of the 2019 mission, notably for the rehabilitation of the built heritage and the traditional houses damaged or destroyed, guide all actions and enable the heritage to serve as a vector for the enhancement of cultural identities and practices of all the communities living there, and more particularly in reconciliation measures between them;
  10. Also appeals to the international community to support the efforts of the State Party in safeguarding the cultural and natural heritage of this property, and finally in order to address the heritage in all its forms as raised by the emergency evaluation mission, recommends the State Party to also consult the Secretariats of the other UNESCO Cultural Conventions in this respect;
  11. Finally 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.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.72

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 42 COM 7B.65 and 43 COM 7.2, adopted respectively at its 42nd (Manama, 2018) and 43rd (Baku, 2019) sessions,
  3. Congratulates the State Party for the actions carried out, through the Cultural Mission of Bandiagara, for the conservation of the property and the safeguarding of certain aspects of the overall rich and living heritage thanks to the International Assistance granted in 2018 and the commitment of the local communities, notably the Dogon Initiative Association (ADI), enabling the restoration and maintenance of some gin’na and various houses, the initiation of an inventory of movable and immovable properties, educational programmes for young people and raising awareness in the population with regard to safeguarding the heritage and the combat against the illicit trafficking of cultural property;
  4. Expresses its grave concern with regard to intercommunity conflict noted within and outside the property between the Dogon and Fulani communities resulting in the destruction of houses and whole villages, granaries and tangible property, animals and harvests, and which constitute an increasing threat to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and deplores in particular the considerable loss of human life, as well as numerous events;
  5. Notes with concern that the joint UNESCO/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to examine the overall management of the property, especially the ways and means to strengthen traditional practices and the diversification of possibilities for sustainable development for the local communities, was not possible due to insecurity problems, and requests the State Party to invite, as soon as circumstances permit, a joint UNESCO/ICOMOS/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to examine the state of conservation of the cultural and natural heritage and the overall management of the property in the context of the current security crisis;
  6. Expresses its satisfaction that an “Evaluation Mission on the Relative Needs of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage, including objects and practices associated with the Cliff of Bandiagara” comprising Malian cultural heritage experts was sent to the property in July 2019, with financial support from the UNESCO World Heritage Emergency Fund, and supports the conclusions and recommendqtions of that mission, as well as the Emergency Action Plan, and calls upon the State Party and the international community to mobilise all necessary means for their implementation;
  7. Welcomes the financial support of the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH) for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the built heritage, including cultural objects, and also requests the State Party to keep it informed of progress in the implementation of activities;
  8. Further requests that the State Party considers the impacts of insecurity in the context of cultural and natural heritage values of this mixed property, including all the management and intervention decisions, ensuring that the emergency actions undertaken can protect the cultural heritage and guarantee the protection of natural heritage values;
  9. Taking into account the current state of the property, that justifies the establishment of a mechanism and specific actions for its preservation, requests moreover that the State Party establish a multidisciplinary working group for a five-year period, with the capacity to act and supervise the implementation of the recommendations and the Emergency Action Plan of the 2019 mission, notably for the rehabilitation of the built heritage and the traditional houses damaged or destroyed, guide all actions and enable the heritage to serve as a vector for the enhancement of cultural identities and practices of all the communities living there, and more particularly in reconciliation measures between them;
  10. Also appeals to the international community to support the efforts of the State Party in safeguarding the cultural and natural heritage of this property, and finally in order to address the heritage in all its forms as raised by the emergency evaluation mission, recommends the State Party to also consult the Secretariats of the other UNESCO Cultural Conventions in this respect;
  11. Finally 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.
Report year: 2021
Mali
Date of Inscription: 1989
Category: Mixed
Criteria: (v)(vii)
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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