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Timbuktu

Mali
Factors affecting the property in 2009*
  • Flooding
  • Housing
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Solid waste
  • Other Threats:

    Lack of adequate maintenance of the buildings.

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Inappropriate design and scale of new Ahmed Baba Cultural Centre in the buffer zone of the Sankoré Mosque; lack of detailed drawings supplied to the Committee

b) Approaches to the restoration of the Djingareyber Mosque;

c) Urban development pressure;

d) Flooding and rubbish disposal;

e) Lack of building regulations and land use plan;

f) Lack of adequate maintenance of the buildings. 

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2009

Total amount provided to the property: USD 100,000 (Italian Funds-in-Trust at UNESCO)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2009
Requests approved: 6 (from 1981-2004)
Total amount approved : 164,115 USD
Missions to the property until 2009**

2002, 2004, 2005, 2006: World Heritage Centre missions; 2008 joint World Heritage Centre/ ICOMOS mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009

At its 32nd Session (Quebec City, 2008), the World Heritage Committee strongly regretted that the State Party had progressed with the building of the Ahmed Baba Cultural Centre next to the Sankoré mosque, without having provided technical drawings that could have permitted a review of the architectural design, as requested by the Committee in Decisions 30 COM 7B.36 and 31 COM 7B.47. The World Heritage Committee noted that nearly 80% of the structural work had been completed and expressed concern at the negative impact of the building work on the integrity of the Sankoré Mosque. It also expressed concern that little progress has been made in halting the decline of buildings in the old city.

The World HeritageCommittee decided to apply the Reinforced monitoring mechanism and requested the State Party to invite a reactive monitoring mission to consider progress with the following corrective measures, which it strongly urged the State Party to implement, and to establish priorities and a timetable:

a) Re-location of the amphitheatre, the Ahmed Baba house, and any other planned development of the classroom and visitor facilities to another location, in order to allow the creation of an urban open space which would allow the retention of the urban coherence of the historic square of Sankore;

b) Creation of a national coordinating committee for Timbuktu, which would be the only authority to receive and evaluate projects which could impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

c) Evaluation of the various existing plans and other studies and the development of a Master plan for the old city of Timbuktu, which would address both conservation and the aspirations of the city in the 21st century, while preserving the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

d) Development of detailed building regulations and a land-use plan for the property and buffer zones;

e) Development of a plan for the participation of the population of the town in matters of heritage so that it can in practice benefit from the projects and development;

f) Extension of the boundaries of the World Heritage property to cover the whole of the old city, in order to protect the monuments, as well as their urban context;

g) Accelerated implementation of the short and medium term actions envisaged in the management plan;

 

On 14 February 2009, the State Party submitted its state of conservation report. This informed that, contrary to the request of the World HeritageCommittee to move the amphitheatre in order to release an open space next to the Sankoré mosque, a decision had been taken to decrease its height by approximately 3.60m in order that it wouldn’t be taller than the Sankoré Mosque. In additions all visible frontages of the amphitheatre will be covered out of local materials.

The State Party also reported that it had chosen to retain the two classrooms and toilet facilities rather than relocate them, as requested by the World HeritageCommittee. Doors and windows would however be changed to wood rather than metal and the roof and concrete posts covered in local materials.

The State Party also informed that:

- An Inter-ministerial committee for Timbuktu had been set up at a national level;

- Progress had been made with studies for the development of the Master Plan;

-  A draft town planning regulation is currently under development.

The State Party did not provide any information on the possibility of enlarging the property to encompass the old city. It reported that Ahmed Baba Centre had been inaugurated on 29 January, 2009 in the presence of the Head of the State and of the former President of South Africa, Mr. Thabo Mbeki.

A joint UNESCO – ICOMOS visited the property from 26 March to 2 April 2009. The mission reported on the following:

a) Relocation of the amphitheatre

The building work was said to be already too far advanced at the time the World HeritageCommittee requested this structure to be relocated. The decision was therefore taken to reduce the height. The completed structure occupies a considerable part of the former space next to the Sankore mosque. However in it truncated form it resembles stairs rather than an amphitheatre and its acoustics do not function properly. The mission considered that it woud have been more judicious to have accepted the request of the World HeritageCommittee to relocate the structure as even the reduced building has a considerable impact on the mosque.

b) Functionality of the new Centre

Although the architect originally conceived the building to have a public use, it appears that the completed structure is regarded by national authorities as a space for post-graduate research and will not be opened to the public. The mission reiterated what had been said in the joint Wold Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission of June 2008, that the permeability of the design makes the building very vulnerable to the sandstorms which confront Timbuktu. Thirdly, the mission considered that the conservation of manuscripts in the building could be problematic in the face of regular electricity cuts in the city.

It appears that the Malian authorities are considering the construction of a protective fence around the building. It will be necessary to consider carefully how this might relate to the Centre and the Mosque.

c) Appearance of the new Centre

Concerning the finished appearance of the building, the mission strongly recommends that corrections are made to the exterior colours and that the grey colour is removed with only the yellow ochre colour remaining. This would allow the mosque to regain a greater visibility.

d) Impact of the new building on the old city

The mission considered that the consequence of the decision to place this new building at a strategic place in the old city are now highly visible and it is clear that the whole urban identity of Timbuktu woud be threatened if further similar examples were constructed.

The mission was forced to note that the old city is subject to more and more strong and contradictory pressures in its architecture, and planning since the construction of this new building. The use of inappropriate materials is in total contradiction with the spirit of the old city and is causing accelerated change which could transform or even eliminate the architectural harmony that the city has demonstrated since the 14th century.

e) Planning controls

The mission noted that the current master plan created in 2005 does not define the use of zones in the old city. In the face of strong development pressure, the mission recommended that work currently under development on town planning for the old city should be finalized as soon as possible, and that this should prohibit all new public projects in the old city. In addition, the mission recommended that the current buffer zone is extended to 500m beyond the by-pass, which constitutes the present delimitation of the old city, and that protective measures are developed for the buffer zone, in relation to the heights of buildings particularly near the mosques of Djingareyber and Sankoré, and around the mausoleums.

f) Destruction of Medersa and its public toilets

The Committee had asked for the destruction of the classrooms and toilets. The State Party has chosen to modify the buildings with wooden windows and changes to the roof material. The mission reaffirmed the inappropriate character of these constructions in the immediate vicinity of the Sankoré Mosque but suggests that a final view on them should await the completion of the work.

g) Creation of an inter-ministerial committee

The mission noted that the State Party had started the process to create this committee. The mission reaffirmed the urgency to set up this committee, which will have the responsibility to prevent future unilateral initiatives that could impact adversely on the property. The committee should be functioning before the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee.

h) State of conservation of the Sidi Yahia Mosque

Since the last mission in June 2008, the general state of the Mosque of Sidi Yahia has degraded considerably. Urgent and medium term interventions are needed. The urgent intervention relates to the body of the mosque (repairs to the roof, replacement of lintels, repair of acroteria, drainage). The mission recommends that a complete technical study, intended to preserve the current minaret, is elaborated before any intervention, and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for examination by ICOMOS.

i) State of conservation of the Djingareyber Mosque

The mission noted progress in the restoration of this mosque. It appreciated the professionalism of the engineering team for the project detached by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and especially its strategy of delegation of the responsibilities for technical supervision to the chief of the masons of Djingareyber. Taking into account the innovations brought to the system of roof, the mission recommends that a follow-up over several years is made immediately after each season of rains, in order to guarantee a good structural behaviour.

The mission was also informed by the engineering team for the project of an archaeological discovery of great importance inside the mosque. The mission recommends that the World Heritage Centre and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture cooperate in the continuation of this work, in particular on the strategy to be set up following the discovery of massive, old pillars, perhaps from a mosque built well before that current building in 1325. The preceding phases of restoration have been documented and communicated to the World Heritage Centre and it is recommended that details of the present and future stages are also communicated to the World Heritage Centre.

j) State of conservation of the mausoleums

The mission had the opportunity to examine the conservation of the 16 mausoleums within the property. It noted that they have not been the subject of regular maintenance since 2005, and this is reflected in the degradation observed, with broken doors and neglected peripheral walls. The mission recalls that the 16 mausoleums are part of the attributes that justify the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and they thus deserve to have the same attention as the three mosques.

The conclusion of the mission, endorsed by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, is that the report on progress with the implementation of corrective measures agreed by the World Heritage Committee, does not show an improvement away from the danger situation with which the property was confronted. They thus recommend that the Reinforced monitoring mechanism be maintained and that the World Heritage Centre, the Advisory Bodies and the international community assist the State Party in its efforts to implement fully the corrective measures (b) to (g) within Decision 32 COM 7B.49, together with the recommendations of the recent mission as a matter of urgency.

 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2009
33 COM 7B.45
Timbuktu (Mali) (C 119 rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7B.49, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Notes the results of the World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS mission to the property, and of the correctives measures already implemented, in particular the process to create an inter-Ministerial Committee on Timbuktu;

4. Also notes with satisfaction the conservation work that is in progress on the Djingareyber Mosque, and in particular the recent discovery of ancient pillars of great importance inside the mosque, and encourages the submission to the World Heritage Centre of documentation for current and future work for assessment by ICOMOS;

5. Expresses its concern that progress in the implementation of corrective measures does not show an improvement away from the danger situation with which the property is confronted, and regrets that the measures recommended by the Committee have not been implemented as requested;

6. Welcomes the announcement of the State Party to relocate the classrooms and pulic toilets in the medium term;

7. Requests the State Party to make the corrections recommended by the mission to the exterior colours of the Ahmed Baba Centre, so that the Sankoré Mosque can regain a greater visibility;

8. Urges the State Party to implement as soon as possible appropriate planning controls to revitalise the traditional architectural forms with appropriate design guidelines, in order to reverse the apparent accelerated change in building materials and form in the old city, to prohibit all new public projects in the old city which will affect the Outstanding Universal Value, and to re-engage the local community in the overall planning processes;

9. Also urges the State Party to develop a technical strategy for the urgent restoration of the Sidi Yahia Mosque, for assessment by ICOMOS, and to put in place appropriate conservation processes for the mausoleums;

10. Reiterates its requests to the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, for examination by the World Heritage Committee;

11. Also requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS monitoring mission to the property to assess progress and define a timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures;

12. Decides not to continue to apply the Reinforce Monitoring Mechanism to the property and encourages the international community to assist the State Party in its efforts to fully implement Decision 32 COM 7B.49;

13. Further 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 and on the steps taken to implement the recommendations set out above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010.

Draft Decision: 33 COM 7B.45

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7B.49, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Notes the results of the World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS mission to the property, and of the correctives measures already implemented, in particular the process to create an inter-Ministerial Committee on Timbuktu;

4. Also notes with satisfaction the conservation work that is in progress on the Djingareyber Mosque, and in particular the recent discovery of ancient pillars of great importance inside the mosque, and encourages the submission to the World Heritage Centre of documentation for current and future work for assessment by ICOMOS;

5. Expresses its concern that progress in the implementation of corrective measures does not show an improvement away from the danger situation with which the property is confronted, and regrets that the measures with respect to relocating the amphitheatre and destroying the, classrooms and public toilets have not been implemented as requested;

6. Requests the State Party to make the corrections recommended by the mission to the exterior colours of the Ahmed Baba Centre, so that the Sankoré Mosque can regain a greater visibility;

7. Urges the State Party to develop as soon as possible appropriate planning controls to revitalise the traditional architectural forms, in order to reverse the apparent accelerated change in building materials and form in the old city, to prohibit all new public projects in the old city, and to re-engage the local community in the overall planning processes;

8. Also urges the State Party to develop a technical strategy for the urgent restoration of the Sidi Yahia Mosque, for assessment by ICOMOS, and to put in place appropriate conservation processes for the mausoleums;

9. Reiterates its requests to the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value including the conditions of integrity and authenticity, for examination by the World Heritage Committee;

10. Also requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS monitoring mission to the property to assess progress and define a timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures;

11. Decides to continue to apply the Reinforced monitoring mechanism and encourages the international community to assist the State Party in its efforts to fully implement Decision 32 COM 7B.49;

12. Further 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 and on the steps taken to implement the recommendations set out above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010.

 

Report year: 2009
Mali
Date of Inscription: 1988
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(v)
Danger List (dates): 1990-2005, 2012-present
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 33COM (2009)
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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