Supporting West African exceptional heritage

©LayePro, Bassari Country: Bassari, Fula and Bedik Cultural Landscapes

The sites located in the subregion and inscribed on the World Heritage List all symbolize the richness and diversity of the West African history, culture and landscape; whether it is linked to the slave trade and history like the islands of Kunta Kinteh and Gorée; natural wonders and protected habitats such as the Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves; Cultural landscapes such as the Saloum Delta; or historical centers such as Cidade Velha.


The concept of World Heritage was defined by the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted in 1972 by the General Conference of UNESCO. It enshrines the idea that the heritage is considered to be of outstanding universal value (OUV), which means that it is of such cultural importance, that it is both invaluable and transcending national boundaries. This legacy from the past has therefore a value for all humankind and must bequeath to future generations. In the countries covered by the Dakar Office, a total of seventeen sites are inscribed on the World Heritage List, including one transboundary site shared by Senegal and The Gambia : Burkina Faso (1), Cabo Verde (1), The Gambia (2*), Guinea-Bissau, Mali (4), Niger (3) et Senegal (7*).

To “Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage” (SDG 11, target 11 .4) and to identify, protect and promote this heritage, UNESCO provides support to Member States through various financial and technical assistance mechanisms. Its work is thus focused on various activities, namely :

  • Management and conservation of World Heritage Sites: the Office supports the development of tools to improve and ensure sustainability of the sites management. It includes, for instance, the production of “Management Plans”, “Site interpretation centers” or conservation measures and capacity building activities;
  • Sites identification: the Office encourages sites identification, providing its support to the Member States in establishing “Tentative Lists” which identify natural and cultural sites for future appointments on the World Heritage List. The Office also assists the States in preparing the nomination files ;
  • Promotion and enhancing the heritage: in order to make sure that sites are promoted and enhanced, UNESCO supports activities carried out by sub-regional States concerning the public awareness and the local communities’ participation in cultural and natural heritage preservation.

For example, Senegal is a pilot country in terms of heritage’s enhancement among mixed audiences. Indeed, since 2013, UNESCO and Senegal have committed to promoting its heritage through a travelling photography exhibition: “World Heritage in Senegal: 7 exceptional sites”; videos shootings; and the development of a mobile app entitled “VUE d’Afrique”.

Mobile App “VUE d’Afrique : 7 exceptional sites”

The “VUE d’Afrique – 7 exceptional sites” mobile app aims at promoting Senegal’s cultural heritage sites among Senegalese people and more particularly among the youth, to introduce them to or rediscover the beauty of their country by means of splendid photographs and videos.

Although this first version of the app focuses on Senegalese World Heritage sites, it can be extended to other countries of the sub-region.

Download for free the application VUE d’Afrique


Learn more:

06.12.2016 Cultural heritage damaged in northern Mali and insertion of children victims of the crisis, UNESCO continues its support to Tombouctou communities (available in French)

25.11.2016 The Mayor of Timbuktu receives the International Award CGLU-CITY of MEXICO-Culture 21

08.11.2016 A New Approach for the Management of Park Niokolo Koba

13.07.2016 Tombouctou, winner of the International Award UCLG – MEXICO City – Culture 21 (available in French)

11.07.2016 Why colonial cultural heritage needs to reassert its value (available in French)

25.02.2016 Experts develop teaching materials to raise awareness among young people of the need for Malian heritage preservation (available in French)

23.11.2015 UNESCO Dakar brings together the technical and financial partners around the conservation issues of the Ile Saint - Louis, a World Heritage Site

06.11.2015 Exceptional cooperation for updating Cabo Verde’s Tentative List

10.07.2015 The Ruins of Loropéni already six years on the World Heritage list! 

23.04.2015 Gorée Island gets its first management plan 

10.04.2015 World Heritage in Senegal: Counting the wildlife in Niokolo Koba National Park 

17.02.2015 Cabo Verde hosts the 2nd risk preparedness training workshop for World Heritage sites in Portuguese-speaking African countries 

13.10.2014 UNESCO Dakar supports West Africa’s exceptional World Heritage 

11.07.2014 A network of international partners and experts to work for urban and historical heritage 

15.04.2014 Push to promote and preserve Senegal’s Bassari Country heritage 

19.02.2014 UNESCO Dakar opens photo exhibition to value Senegal's cultural heritage 

26.09.2013 City of Agadez in Niger, a new UNESCO World Heritage site 

24.09.2013 Call for applications: Training workshop to learn about the risks facing World Heritage sites in Africa

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