The "Old Towns of Djenné" were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. However, in 2016, this urban landscape was included in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The paper aims to examine the neglect that led to this listing by identifying the actors involved in the protection of the town's unique architecture, describing their constraints and interventions, and demonstrating their persistent inability to define a common strategy. We show how most international and national interventions in the past two decades have ignored the restrictions and commitments imposed by the World Heritage status of the town. A striking feature is the lack of awareness and the progressive loss of knowledge, among decision-makers at local and national level, as well as among external aid funding managers, of the value of the cultural heritage that Djenné architecture represents; and among the professionals (Malian architects and local masons), of the technical know-how needed to maintain this architecture. The paper addresses the need for concerted efforts to educate and sensitize various actors in the conservation of Djenne’s architecture to enable them to contribute effectively to political and technical decisions regarding the protection of this heritage.