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-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

a) Rehabilitation of at least 70% of the heritage monuments;

b) Surveyed and demarcated boundaries as well as the extension of the property to include Kilwa Kivinje and Sanje Ya Kati;

c) Established proper land-use plan;

d) Demonstrated progress in the implementation of the management and the conservation plan;

e) Fully established on-site administrative structures;

f) Halted sea-wave action; 

Corrective measures identified

a) Implement urgent measures to halt sea-wave action;

b) Survey and demarcate the boundaries of the property including extension;

c) Improve and implement the management and conservation plans;

d) Provide for on-site management staff;

e) Halt the vegetation growth within and around monuments;

f) Halt of illegal removal of monuments stone for private constructions.

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

a) Changes within two years:

Delineation of the boundaries of the property and buffer zones. This should also include the extension of the property to include Kilwa Kivinje and Sanje Ya Kati, the boundaries and the extension to be submitted for consideration by the 35th session of the Committee;

b) Changes within three years:

(i) Implementation of the management plan should be advanced, and there should be signs of rehabilitation of architectural heritage;

(ii) Management structures should be well established in each serial site with an operational office and staff;

(iii) Establishment of a proper land-use plan to protect sites integrity and resolve future land conflicts;

c) Changes within five years:

Recovery of most of the architectural heritage should be completed (though full recovery will take much longer and will require sustained effort for over a decade).

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

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1983-2009)
Total amount approved: USD 46,340
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/144/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: Support from the French and Japanese governments to UNESCO project (USD 1,438,000). The Norwegian Funds-in-Trust provided support for UNESCO rehabilitation project (USD 201,390).

Previous monitoring missions

February 2004: ICOMOS mission; June 2008 and March 2009: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring missions.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Deterioration of the architectural heritage fabric;

b) Lack of approved statement of outstanding universal value;

c) Lack of using the management plan as the main vehicle for managing the property;

d) Lack of approved boundaries for the property and its buffer zone linked to the land-use plans and appropriate protection;

e) Need to extend the property to include Kilwa Kivinje and Sanje Ya Kati;

f) Lack of functioning local consultative committee;

g) Lack of implementation of the conservation and management plans. 

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009

At the time of the writing of this report, the State Party has yet not submitted the state of conservation plan requested by the World Heritage Committee.

At its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008), the World Heritage Committee requested a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to assist the State Party in developing the previously requested Statement of outstanding universal value, including the conditions of integrity and authenticity, and in exploring how to ensure that the site’s management plan can function as the key, central co-ordinating mechanism in managing the property, and finally to assess the progress made in improving the state of conservation of the property.

This mission took place from 2-9 March 2009. Its report notes the following main outcomes in site conservation since the previous mission, 9 months earlier:

a) An improved state of conservation through systematic consolidation of monumental structures at Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara;

b) An improved participation by local stakeholders in property management through the already established “Ruins Committees”;

c) An improved understanding of the management plan as a guiding document for targeted action on-site;

d) An increase in visitation that opens up possibilities for more sustainable operations at the site;

e) Significant impacts of international donor aid and actions on site, and potential for their renewal and extension.


The mission also provided recommendations in the following areas:

Statement of outstanding universal value

A workshop on outstanding universal value took place inDar es Salaam from 2 to 4 March 2009, organized by the World HeritageCentre in cooperation with the Department of Antiquities. The Statement of outstanding universal value for the property agreed upon during this workshop will be forwarded to the World Heritage Centre after review by stakeholders at national level.


Delineation of boundaries of the property and the buffer zones

At present, the property and the buffer zones are undefined, and land uses and inhabitants not documented. The mission recommends however looking beyond a possible delineation of the property and buffer zones as contiguous entities, but rather to defining key monumental structures with their adjacent spaces as a series of small cores embedded in a larger conservation zone. The Antiquities Act provides for the establishment of such zones by bylaw. This approach to zoning should identify current land use, and the extent of permitted change. The mission notes that the conservation zones could also be defined to include visual axes to be respected, or important intangible heritage to be respected, e.g. ancient traditions and functions. The mission also notes that this comprehensive mapping is a matter of urgency.


Conservation of monuments


The mission reported that the state of conservation of the monumental structures at Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara was encouraging, and that currently 25% of the monumental structures have been successfully stabilized.  


In Kilwa Kisiwani, the Gereza has to a great extent been consolidated under a Norway Funds-in-Trust arrangement, which will be continued and finalized under a cooperation scheme with the World Monuments Fund. The situation is the same for the Great Mosque and Great House, the Small Domed Mosque, and the Husuni Kubwa, while a major clean up was underway at Husuni Ndogo. Structures still needing urgent attention include the Makutani Palace complex, Malindi Mosque, and the Tombs of the Kilwa Sultans.


In Songo Mnara, the mission noted that large sections of the property have been cleared of destructive vegetation, especially at the most important buildings. Although it is noted that stabilization of structures has not advanced as far as at Kilwa Kisiwani, the Sultan’s Palace and adjoining house, as well as the Mosque, have already been successfully stabilized and to a limited extent restored. The mission noted excellent repair work on the reconstruction of deteriorated or lost niches, arches and decoration details at the Sultan’s Palace, and that 30 people have received job training as part of the programme initiated by the French Government. The mission further suggested that the stabilization of all remaining structures, itself an enormous task, was perhaps neither feasible nor necessary. The mission suggested exploring the possibility of identifying and stabilizing the main architectural and urban spatial typologies.


The mission notes that, in addition to the expenditure of USD 200,000 made thus far, an additional amount of USD 400,000 would be required over a 5-year period in order to meet the World Heritage Committee’s target of 70% stabilization as per the Desired state of conservation. The mission notes that this seems achievable given the possible interest of new donors in continuing the works.


Concerning beach erosion at Kilwa Kisiwani, the mission also noted that this is critical in four locations only: the Gereza and its wider setting, Malindi Mosque, Husuni Kubwa and the on-the-beach structure of the Makutani Palace where very urgent shoring is needed.

In this case, the mission recommends low-cost and straightforward solutions, such as rows of wooden poles in the water to dampen wave action and currents, with gabion walls at the beach and terraced cliff sides behind, as opposed to complex and full-blown engineering works. While each of these low-cost solutions requires research, including measuring impacts on the bio-physical environment and on the outstanding universal value of the property, such an approach would allow for the use of local labour, require limited investment and phased implementation capable of monitoring, for any necessary in-process adjustment.


Concerning site encroachment, the mission noted only a few such instances on the site.  


The mission reviewed implementation of the management plan, and considers that its effectiveness could be enhanced by accompanying it with annual action plans to guide the site manager’s annual operations, while helping synchronize and integrate donor-funded projects. The mission also noted the importance of regular coordination meetings among key stakeholders, i.e. the Department of Antiquities, the Kilwa Cultural Centre and the local community residing on the islands, to ensure the management system brings greater coherence to the protection of the wider setting of the sites.


As regards a possible extension of the property, the mission noted the inclusion of Sanje Ya Kati and the specified Omani component of Kilwa Kivinje, in order to more fully represent the fullest spectrum of representation of Swahili settlement, trade and cultural achievement in this region, from its origins to eventual submergence into a short-lived German colonial epoch. However, the town of Kilwa Kivinje is impoverished and there is serious deterioration of its heritage, and any preparation of this site for inclusion on the World Heritage List will be long. In this context, so as not to preclude the possibility of future nomination, the mission proposes providing possible assistance to undertake the stabilization of some structures, and to set up appropriate management structures.


The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies feel progress has been made by the State Party, working in close collaboration with the World Heritage Centre and international donors, in improving the state of conservation of the property:

a) Preparation of a draft Statement of outstanding universal value for the property at a workshop in March 2009, now being reviewed by local and national stakeholders;

b) Proposals generated during the joint reactive monitoring mission of March 2009 to establish a new approach to delineating the boundaries of the property and its buffer zones, using the provisions of the Antiquities Act which provide for conservation zones being established surrounding monumental structures;

c) Proposals also generated during the recent mission to strengthen application of the management plan through preparation of annual Action Plans, linked to the Plan;

d) Proposals generated during the recent mission to encourage an extension of the World Heritage property to include Sanje Ya Kati and part of Kilwa Kivinje, and to consider priority stabilisation of key components of both sites in the interim period, given severe deterioration of both sites;  

e) Repair, restoration and stabilisation works carried out on structures in Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara with the aid of interrnational donors, bringing to 25% the extent of stabilisation achieved (relative to the 70% level of stabilisation sought after 5 years by the World Heritage Committee in its 32nd session);

f) Work carried out to stabilise beach erosion at Kilwa Kisiwani, and to reduce encroachments in the World Heritage property.

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


Decision Adopted: 33 COM 7A.14

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-09/33.COM/7A,

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7A.14, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Regrets that the State Party did not provide the state of conservation report on time as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 32nd session;

4. Notes with satisfaction the State Party's effectiveness in its recent efforts to strengthen the conservation of the World Heritage property and to improve implementation of its management mechanisms;

5. Takes note of the workshop on Outstanding Universal Value organized by the World Heritage Centre and thanks the State Party for submitting a statement of Outstanding Universal Value for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010;

6. Warmly welcomes the efforts made by the State Party, with the support of international donors, in the last few years, to respond to the Committee's requests and invites the State Party to consider a request for international assistance to implement the corrective measures in progress;

7. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2010, a report on the state of conservation of the property, including the progress in implementing the corrective measures, and the re-evaluation of the timeframe for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010;

8. Decides to retain the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara (United Republic of Tanzania) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 33 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following the examination of the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-09/33.COM/7A, WHC-09/33.COM/7A.Add and WHC-09/33.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC-09/33.COM/7A.Corr),

2. Decides to maintain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: