1.         Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara (United Republic of Tanzania) (C 144)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1981

Criteria  (iii)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2004-2014

Deterioration and decay leading to the collapse of the historical and archaeological structures for which the property was inscribed 

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/144/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1983-2021)
Total amount approved: USD 131,632
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/144/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 201,390 from the Norwegian Funds-in-Trust for UNESCO rehabilitation project

Previous monitoring missions

February 2004: ICOMOS mission; June 2008, March 2009, and December 2013: Joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring missions

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/144/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2023

On 1 December 2022, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/144/documents/ and responds to previous Committee decisions as follows:

Additionally, on 18 August 2022, the State Party submitted a report on the implementation of a project, supported through International Assistance, to rehabilitate the stairs at the Husuni Kubwa Palace: “Elimination of waves and tides scouring action, restoration of stairs at Husuni Kubwa Palace and community awareness educational programme”. The project also included planting mangrove trees to reduce sea wave impacts, which were damaging the monument. Similar works related to climate change impact were implemented in the property to strengthen the coastal sea wall of the Oman Tower and the gabion wall of Gereza Fort in 2018. Finally, the State Party reports that the management of the property has been transferred from the Antiquities Division to Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority.

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

As a continued response to the threats the property faces related to the deterioration of the architectural fabric, the impact of climate change, notably from sea wave erosion, as well as the weak management system, the State Party is implementing some conservation projects, and climate mitigation actions as a response to the Committee decisions following the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2014.

With the support of UNESCO International Assistance, conservation and rehabilitation works were undertaken to consolidate the outside stairs of the Husuni Kubwa Palace and to plant mangrove trees to reduce and mitigate the impact of sea erosion in 2022. The action to mitigate the impact of climate change follows other important conservation work supported by the World Heritage Fund to restore the tower at Songo Mnara and the gabion wall of Gereza Fort. Sea wave action leading to coastal erosion remains a perennial threat to the property and the Committee may wish to request that the State Party provide an update on the effect of past mangrove planting and an assessment of the level of threat remaining.

The efforts of the State Party to allocate funds for the review of the Integrated Management Plan (IMP) of the property, as well as for having mobilized International Assistance for “The Review and the Update of the Integrated Management Plan for the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara to accommodate the Current Site Management Systems” are welcome.

While it is noted that the State Party agrees to the request of the Committee (Decision 44 COM.11) to consider and integrate several aspects in the new IMP, including but not limited to: the implementation of unimplemented targets and activities of the current IMP as previously requested by the Committee – notably for the better engagement of the communities, partners and stakeholders for good governance; and extension of the boundaries of the property and definition of an appropriate buffer zone – it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to expedite the implementation of the International Assistance Request to review the Integrated Management Plan, including the definition of the time frame of the IMP, finalize the detailed Land Use Plan, formulate a Sustainable Tourism Development Plan, and clarify the boundaries and the establishment of a buffer zone, and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies. These actions are all urgent in the light of the ambitions of the State Party to further develop tourism at the property.

It is further noted that the State Party commits to complying with the requirement of Paragraph 118bis of the Operational Guidelines to ensure that the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA) with a strong archaeological focus are carried out before the development of tourism activities in the property for review by the Advisory Bodies.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 7B.134

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decision 44 COM 7B.11 adopted at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021),
  3. Commends the State Party for the continuing effort to implement conservation works, notably the restoration of the stairs at Husuni Palace, as a continuous response to the challenges of the property following its removal from the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  4. Takes note with appreciation that the World Heritage Centre, through the World Heritage Fund, and with the Advisory Bodies, supported the State Party in taking concrete actions to counter the impacts of climate change;
  5. Reiterates the importance that the State Party integrate climate change mitigation and adaptation actions plans in risk preparedness policies and action plans in order to protect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and requests the State Party, with the support of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, to continue monitoring the situation of the property and develop activities to consolidate the ongoing initiatives to mitigate the effect of climate change in the property;
  6. Further commends the State Party for mobilising funds to review the Integrated Management Plan (IMP) and further requests the State Party to expedite the process to finalise the revision of the IMP, addressing all aspects as previously noted by the Committee, including but not limited to a detailed Land Use Plan and Tourism Development Plan, the establishment of boundaries and a buffer zone, and to submit the revised IMP to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Further notes with appreciation the commitment of the State Party to ensure that the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA), including a strong focus on archaeological attributes, be carried out with appropriate and detailed documentation and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before any large conservation projects and/or any commitments are made, consistent with the requirements of Paragraphs 172 and 118bis of the Operational Guidelines;
  8. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2024, 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 47th session.