Koutammakou: Land of the Batammariba

An On My Watch Event

This event is part of the On My Watch series and took place virtually on Thursday, July 15, 2021, at 12 PM (EDT). See below for more information on the discussion, including the event description and speaker information. 

Event Description 

The Batammariba name, used by the Batammariba people of modern-day Benin and Togo, means “those who are the real architects of earth,” pointing to the foundational place of earthen construction traditions for Batammariba society and culture. 

On the Togo side of the border, traditional Batammariba settlements have become icons of the Togolese state, and Koutammakou, land of the Batammariba, achieved World Heritage status in 2004. But legal protections and the traditional principles of heritage management alone are not enough to ensure the perpetuation of a living cultural tradition underpinned by indigenous knowledge. On the Benin side of the border, Koutammakou has yet to achieve World Heritage status. 

On Thursday, July 15 at 12:00 noon (EDT) join WMF Principal Project Director Stephen Battle for an online conversation on World Monuments Fund’s (WMF) project to preserve traditional settlements on the Benin side of Koutammakou, a 2020 World Monuments Watch site, and carry out physical conservation work alongside local artisans. Stephen will be joined by Ibrahim Tchan, Executive Director of the Corps des Volontaires Béninois (Corps of Benin Volunteers), who will discuss the project’s implementation and future development–including the planting of 5,000 trees to ensure the continued supply of necessary wooden structural elements.

Date: Thursday, July 15
Time: 12:00 noon (EDT) | 5:00 pm (WAT) | 4:00 pm (GMT)

About the Speakers

Stephen Battle

World Monuments Fund Principal Project Director

Stephen Battle is an architect with 30 years' professional experience managing conservation projects in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. He started on his professional path in Zanzibar, where he worked on projects in the historic Stone Town. From 1998 to 2008, he worked for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture based in Geneva, where he was project manager for conservation and urban rehabilitation projects in Syria, Tanzania, and Pakistan. He joined World Monuments Fund in 2009 as Program Director, responsible for managing WMF’s projects in Africa. He has led major multi-year conservation projects in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Mali, Ghana, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Maldives, and Uganda. From 2017 to 2020, he developed and implemented a project in Jordan and Lebanon to train Syrian refugees, Jordanians, and Lebanese in stonemasonry and conservation, funded by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund. 


Ibrahim Tchan

Executive Director of the Corps des Volontaires Béninois (Corps of Benin Volunteers)

Ibrahim Tchan is a Beninese jurist specializing in cultural heritage. He is Director and Co-Founder of the Tata Somba Ecomuseum, the first ecological museum in West Africa. After Koutammakou, Land of the Batammariba, was included on the 2020 World Monuments Watch, he began coordinating the Koutammakou Cultural Landscape Preservation Project, Benin and Togo with his organization, Corps of Benin Volunteers, with the financial support of the World Monuments Fund. Also member of the Climate Heritage Network (CHN), he is CHN Africa Region Representative within the Climate Heritage Network-GlobalABC / Green Solutions Award Engagement Task Team. Particularly active in projects involving the participation of local communities in the management and animation of world heritage, he designed the ConP'Art (Knowing my world heritage) didactic tool dedicated to educating children (10 and 13 years old) on African world heritage through the character of Comic Strip called Tory, the Little Ecocitoyen.

About On My Watch

On My Watch is a series of conversations inviting architects, urban planners, preservationists, local stakeholders, and WMF project managers to explore the political, cultural, and technical issues around the preservation of at-risk cultural heritage sites on the World Monuments Watch around the world. 

American Express logo

WMF's project to document and preserve traditional Batammariba settlements in Koutammakou is made possible with support from American Express.


This event is hosted in partnership with the New York and UK Chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and has been approved for AIA 1.5 LU / HSW credits. ​​​​​​