Gao: Rehabilitation of the Tomb of Askia
The Tomb of Askia, built in 1495, is testament to the splendour of the Songhoy Empire and a significant example of Sudano-Sahelian architecture. The structure is an excellent example of mud-building traditions found in West African Sahel. The local community regularly gathers at the pyramidal tomb and two flat-roof mosque buildings for cultural events. They are dedicated to its upkeep by maintaining the structure using traditional methods, such as plastering (crepissage).
When the city of Gao was occupied by armed groups from 2012-2013, there were serious consequences to its cultural heritage, including the tomb. Moreover, the consequences of climate change, and in particular the intensification of rainfall, increase its structural vulnerability.
Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 2004, it was subsequently placed on the World Heritage in Danger List in 2012.
To prevent it from further degrading and collapsing, and to promote and protect local and traditional knowledge, a full rehabilitation project is carried out. It will improve the state of conservation and authenticity of the site while continuing traditional maintenance practices, such as the traditional wooden carpentry and plastering techniques which are characterized by rounded shapes resulting from the regular renewal of the plaster layer eroded by the rains each winter.