"Essaouira is an exceptional example of a late-eighteenth
century fortified town, built according to the principles
of contemporary European military architecture in
a North African context. Since its foundation, it
has been a major international trading seaport, linking Morocco
and its Saharan hinterland with Europe and
the rest of the world."
description (External link)
plaque near the entry of the new medina at Bab Sbah
The buildings in the medina
of Essaouira is rather well preserved but the climate, sea
erosion and other ecological factors as well as human, are
doing harm to the remparts and buildings constructed with
old technics. There are many ideas about how to preserve the
heritage of Essaouira. International and local organisations,
the City of Essaouira and also private initiatives are cooperating
and work with this difficult task.
Essaouira has since 1997 a
co-operation with the French costal city Saint-Malo
and with other cities in the UNESCO
project "Urban Development and Freshwater Resources:
Small Coastal Cities"
the previous economic base of fisheries is
in crisis, urban employment is limited to tourism
and handicraft production. This has had severe
repercussions on the quality of life and the environment.
The cultural heritage has suffered degradation and continued
expansion of the city inland is threatening its fragile ecosystem
and the very survival of the town.
Capacity-building efforts focus on setting priorities for
action, targeted human resources development,
institutional strengthening, development and adaptation of
tools, encouraging partnerships, mobilization of resources,
and promoting exchange between cities facing similar problems.
UN Habitat project and its partners
has eveloped action plans, addressing issues such as the protection
of the collapsing sea retaining wall and dilapidated
city gates, a revitalisation plan for the Mellah
area and development of an urban park as
a buffer zone between housing estates and a dune forest.
UN Habitat Localising Agenda 21