Application of the Climate Vulnerability Index for the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and the Ruins of Songo Mnara, Tanzania

Scott Heron, Jon Day, Mercy Mbogelah, Revocatus Bugumba, Evarest Abraham, Noah Pauline, Mohamed Bakari Sadi, Mzee Said Khamis, Stephen Madenge, William Megarry

Research output: Book/ReportOther report


Climate change is a major threat to World Heritage (WH) and many sites are already experiencing impacts from climate change related hazards. As the climate crisis intensifies, there remains an urgent need to understand the vulnerability of heritage sites. This report describes the outcomes from an application of the Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI) for the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara (hereafter RKK and RSM) WH property in Tanzania. The CVI methodology is an emerging technique to rapidly assess the vulnerability of natural and cultural WH, which assesses realised and potential impacts to both Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and the associated community. It was held as part of the United Kingdom Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport funded Values-based Climate Change Risk Assessment: Piloting the Climate Vulnerability Index for Cultural Heritage in Africa Project (hereafter CVI-Africa project). The CVI-Africa project was the first time the CVI had been applied to African WH properties. The CVI was held on 18th and 19th October 2021, and applied the Consult mode, a more concise and rapid assessment than a full CVI Workshop. It was held in-person and involved the site manager, a representative from the National Museum of Tanzania, the Chairman and members of the site Ruins Committee and a translator. Facilitators and other project team members joined remotely. It was preceded by three preparatory webinars with contributions from experts from a wide range of backgrounds which fed directly into the Consult. Within the CVI process, participants selected ca. 2040 as the future time scale on which to assess vulnerability and chose to consider a high-emissions scenario (Representative Concentration Pathway, RCP8.5). Participants identified the three climate stressors of greatest threat: Intense Precipitation Events, Sea level rise (trend), and Coastal erosion. Examples of actual and potential impacts include the percolation of rainwater into structures, the erosion of gullies during heavy rainfall and the erosion of archaeological remains along the coast near the Gereza Fort. The potential impact on the OUV, derived from exposure and sensitivity, was determined as extreme (the highest on a four-point scale, low to extreme) for Coastal erosion; high for Intense precipitation events; and as moderate for Sea level rise. Once adaptive capacity was taken into account, the combined OUV Vulnerability for the sites was determined to be Moderate. The potential community vulnerability varied considerably. Economic values related to conservation and management were perceived to experience a future increase in economic activity resulting from a predicted increase to impacts, while those linked to tourism and services would be negatively affected by a loss of values. Impacts to cultural and social values were deemed to be negative at a moderate level. The adaptive capacities were deemed to be moderate for economic and low for social and cultural, resulting in the Community Vulnerability being determined as Low. It was abundantly clear that previous adaptive measures taken at the site had a beneficial impact on both OUV and community adaptive capacity. These also contributed significantly to the local economy. As such, the RKK and RSM WH property represents a good example of how climate adaptation measures can both preserve the OUV of WH properties while simultaneously supporting local communities. It also highlights the value of local knowledge and experience locally, nationally and internationally.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDar es Salaam
PublisherCVI Africa Project
Number of pages52
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2022


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