President of Mali and Aga Khan Inaugurate National Park of Mali as part of events to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Malian Independence
Bamako, Mali, 22 September 2010 - President Amadou Toumani Toure and His Highness the Aga Khan inaugurated the new National Park of Mali in Bamako today. The 103-hectare Park was created under a public-private partnership between the Government of Mali and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). The Aga Khan is in Mali along with Heads of State from across Africa for the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Malian Independence.
The Park creates a permanent green space in one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. Under the terms of the public-private partnership, the Government asked AKTC to concentrate on the Park’s 103 hectares (250 acres), a large, semi-circular canyon of protected forest that lies beneath the Koulouba plateau, between the National Museum and the Presidential Palace Complex. The Park is part of a larger protected forest reserve of 2,100 hectares (5180 acres).
In keeping with AKTC’s philosophy that a Park without a long-range plan for maintenance and development could simply become a burden on the city, AKTC earlier signed a 25-year agreement with Mali’s Minister of Culture and Minister of the Environment and Sanitation for the maintenance and further development of the Park. AKTC’s park projects, notably in Delhi, Cairo and Zanzibar, all have provisions for the long-term sustainability of the parks.
The Park is designed to offer large open spaces for leisure and educational activities for the general public, school groups and tourists. Bringing together the National Museum and the existing Botanical Garden and Zoo into a single cultural/ecological park, the Park features a comprehensive pedestrian circulation network and formal promenades throughout. It contains fitness, jogging, cycling and mountaineering tracks of varying difficulty and diverse interpretive awareness trails for botany, birds and nature. The garden spaces feature indigenous flora in varied settings, from open lawn areas to flower gardens, wooded areas and a medicinal garden. Interpretive educational signs and displays and the development of trained guides are expected to offer new educational experiences for visitors.
Phase 1 included the rehabilitation of 17 hectares of open spaces and the redevelopment and integration of eight existing facilities. The architect Diébédo Francis Kéré, an Aga Khan Award for Architecture recipient in 2004, was commissioned to design a primary and secondary gate, an entry building, a youth and sports centre, a restaurant, public toilets and several kiosks.
The Park development is part of a broader programme of urban revitalisation efforts undertaken by AKTC at World Heritage sites within the country. As part of its Earthen Architecture Programme, AKTC has also undertaken large cultural, social and economic projects in Mopti, Timbuktu and Djenné.
The programme began in 2006 with the restoration of the Great Mosque of Mopti, which had been at risk of collapse. AKTC then implemented an urban regeneration programme that aimed to raise the standard of living for residents in the Komoguel area. Water points were established to increase access to safe, clean drinking water; an underground sewerage system was built with connections to individual households in the area; a treatment facility for raw sewage was installed; 4500 square metres of streets were paved with locally manufactured bricks (made from recycled polythene bags and sand) and a system for collection of solid waste was introduced. A flood barrier built to withstand periodic flooding was constructed. A visitor centre housing the Centre for Earthen Architecture, a community centre and public toilets were also constructed. In the process, 345 people were trained in construction techniques, plumbing, masonry, brick manufacturing, carpentry and metal work.
Following the work in Mopti, AKTC initiated comprehensive conservation works on the Djingereyber Mosque in Timbuktu at the end of 2006. The mosque, built in the 14th century, is the oldest earth construction building in sub-Saharan Africa. Officially listed as part of the Mali’s cultural heritage, it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.
AKTC’s work in Djenné began in 2006, when a preliminary study of the Great Mosque revealed that despite its well-known annual maintenance process, the Great Mosque of Djenné was at risk of collapsing. AKTC’s conservation of the Mosque, which began at the end of 2008, encompassed the complete rehabilitation of the roof, restoration of the mud-brick load-bearing wall structure and the complete replacement of the interior lighting, ventilation and sound systems. As in Mopti, Djenné’s Phase 2 will encompass the improvement of public spaces, the installation of water and sanitation and other measures designed to improve the quality of life in the area.
For more information, please contact
Réseau Aga Khan de développement (Mali)
Immeuble Niangado, sis quartier du fleuve
B.P.E 2998, Bamako-Mali
About the Aga Khan Development Network
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture is the cultural agency of the Aga Khan Development Network. The Trust has been active in Mali since 2004, working in Bamako, Djenné, Timbuktu and Mopti. Through its programmes, the Trust engages in the physical and social revitalisation of communities with the aim of improving the quality of life; promotes debate about contemporary design problems; and, through education and cultural initiatives in the realm of music and the arts, aims to highlight the contributions of the Muslim world to global cultural heritage.
The Network’s overall objective in Mali is to contribute to poverty reduction and the improvement of the quality of life for the people of Mali. Several other agencies of AKDN are currently operating in Mali, including the Aga Khan Foundation, Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development and Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance. Activities have grown to encompass: cultural restoration projects; economic development projects ranging from packaging for agricultural products to infrastructure investments in the water, electricity and aviation sectors; a coordinated multi-input area development project involving health, education, microfinance and civil society strengthening in the Mopti region; and the creation of a large public park in the country’s capital city.