1.         Lamu Old Town (Kenya) (C 1055)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2001

Criteria  (ii)(iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1055/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2000-2010)
Total amount approved: USD 31,776
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1055/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

March 2004: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS monitoring mission; February 2005 World Heritage Centre advisory mission on water and sanitation assessments, May 2010: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM reactive monitoring mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Lack of approved Management Plan and accompanying action plan;

b) Lack of risk preparedness, especially in the case of fire;

c) Lack of adequate sewerage, waste disposal, and overall infrastructure, and risk to limited fresh water supplies;

d) Uncontrolled development;

e) Lack of resources;

f) Urban and industrial development pressure, including possible new port, and of oil exploration;

g) Inadequate buffer zone.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1055/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

On 31 January 2012, a report on the state of conservation for LamuOldTown was submitted by the State Party. The report addresses some issues requested by the World Heritage Committee in decision 35 COM 7B.39, including a feasibility study for the Lamu-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor and Lamu port development at Manda Bay, the table of contents for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the first three berth of Lamu Harbour, encroachment in the Shela sand dunes and uncontrolled development. However, it does not contain any information on the exact routing of the LAPSSET corridor, scope and infrastructure of the port, its associated city, airport, and tourism resorts, its likely impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), the precise boundaries of the property and buffer zones, or the Management Plan.

a) Lamu-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor and new Lamu Port

The State Party reports that no infrastructure developments were earmarked for LamuIsland itself, neither in the property nor in the gazetted buffer zones. The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) have engaged in close cooperation with the government agencies concerned and their request for a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) /Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) was acknowledged and agreed to by the responsible Ministry, the Ministry of Transport.

In information published by the Kenyan Ministry of Transport, LAPSSET project is outlined as a major development, perhaps the largest present infrastructure investment on the African continent. It comprises three corridors of 200meters width connecting Lamu to Nakodok in South Sudan (1,250km), Moyale in Ethiopia (460km) and Nairobi (270km), each combining a 4-6 lanes highway, railway tracks and pipe corridors for oil pipelines and fibre optic cables. The 32 berth cargo port at Lamu Manda Bay is proposed to be developed along with the new Lamu Metropolis development, a new Lamu International airport, an oil refinery and a resort city and leisure environment, including a convention centre, amusement centre, cultural and technology centre, a cruise terminal facility and a fisherman’s wharf, all located along a new ring road around Manda Bay.

A feasibility study prepared by a Japanese port development consultancy firm, in executive summary available in the public domain, anticipates a significantly enlarged urban community in Lamu District with considerable environmental and social impacts. Rough estimates assume a population growth from presently 101,000 inhabitants to 1.25 million by 2050, with increased fresh water requirements from presently 3,000 m3 per day (estimate) to anticipated 296,750 m3. It seems that these estimations would by far outstretch any available resources and endanger the ecology of this fragile ecosystem. The project is likely to further lead to a decline of the local biodiversity and indigenous economies, to changes in the morphology of the coastline and tidal flows, and will have considerable socio-economic impacts on Lamu and its surrounding landscape.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that LAPSSET has been approved by H.E. the Hon. Mwai Kibaki, President of the Republic of Kenya on 26 July 2011, and that all concerned government agencies were instructed to expedite the implementation of this project, before the EIA/HIA requested by the National Museums of Kenya was commissioned. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies would like to recall in this context in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, that detailed information on new constructions, which may affect the Outstanding Universal Value of a property, should be made available before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse, so that the Committee may assist in seeking appropriate solutions to ensure that the OUV of the property is fully preserved.

On 2 March 2012, an official ceremony took place at Lamu in presence of the Kenyan President, the Ethiopian Prime Minister and the President of South Sudan to launch the construction of the first three berth facilities at Lamu and the beginning of the transport corridor construction.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies wish to particularly highlight that the amount of development foreseen in the project, while outside the boundaries of the property, could cause enormous urban development pressures on Lamu Old Town, and would also have an effect on the traditional Swahili cultural and religious functions for which the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List under criteria (ii) and (vi). 

b) Encroachment in the Shela sand dunes and water catchment area

A special inter-departmental team, spearheaded by the National Environment Authority (NEMA), the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) and the Water Resource Management Authority (WRMA) has been formed to register the Shela sand dunes as an area of special bio-diversity (SOB). This status is expected to raise the area’s profile and further enforce development restrictions and protection efforts. The WRMA, in cooperation with water user associations, is developing a catchment Management Plan and has in 2011 received funding for a number of catchment protection initiatives. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that the risks of encroachment in the Shela sand dunes and of loss of the ecological balance of the water catchment area are increasing with the planned Lamu Port and Metropolis development as part of the LAPSSET project. In this context the need for effective anticipatory planning and management as well as enforcement of By-laws have become more urgent and important than ever before.

c) Boundaries, buffer zones and finalized Management Plan

Despite repeated requests, the State Part has not provided maps with the exact boundaries of the property and gazetted buffer zones. It has equally not provided a copy of the Management Plan, the finalization of which was supported by the World Heritage Fund in 2010.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

Despite the continuing lack of officially provided information on the LAPSSET project, based on information of Kenyan government agencies available in the public domain, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are of the view that the Lamu Port and Metropolis development, including the transport corridor, international airport and other infrastructure, along with the massive influx of population to Lamu District that will accompany the project, will have a significant impact on the environment and the property. The development is further likely to negatively affect the OUV of the property, in particular its social and cultural unity and cohesion, its relationship with the surrounding landscape and setting extending to the surrounding islands, as well as its fresh water supplies of the Shela sand dunes water catchment area. There is also a strong potential to create massive urban development pressures on the property.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recommend that the Committee urges the State Party to halt and prevent any construction on the LAPSSET project or new Lamu Port and Metropolis until a comprehensive EIA and HIA (following the “ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage Properties”, covering not merely the first three berths of Lamu Port, but for the full scope of the project) have been carried out and have been submitted for consideration by the World Heritage Committee. This assessment should focus, not only on the possible impacts on the built heritage and natural environment of the World Heritage property, but also on the social, cultural, and religious impacts, which are important attributes of the OUV of the property. In advance of this HIA, support needs to be given to the property to allow the development of precise definitions and delineations of the attributes of OUV, both tangible and intangible, to use as a firm basis for the impact assessment.

The World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies wish to draw the attention of the Committee on the continuing lack of information, apparent scope and ambitious implementation schedule of the LAPSSET project. Whilst there could clearly be considerable economic benefits for the greater Lamu area from the project, the pace of development could overwhelm the property unless its governance, management and planning controls are strengthened to allow a more symbiotic relationship to develop. 

They also indicate that, in case of on-going construction works without prior consideration of the EIA/ HIA by the World Heritage Committee, or a continuing lack of commitment to provide essential information on the scope, location, implementation schedule as well as projected secondary developments of the LAPSSET project and Lamu Port and Metropolis, the World Heritage Committee may wish to consider the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 37th session in 2013. The Committee could also express its concern at the continuing lack of precise documentary material on the property boundaries and buffer zones as well as the delay in submission of the finalized Management Plan, and request that these be provided at the earliest possible opportunity. 

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.43

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B,

2.   Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.39, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

3.   Notes the general information provided by the State Party on the Lamu-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor, Lamu Port development, encroachment and uncontrolled development in the Shela sand dunes and Lamu Old Town;

4.   Expresses its strong concern that detailed information on the LAPSSET corridor and Lamu Port project, such as its scope, projected kinds of primary and secondary developments foreseen, projected economic and population data, has not been submitted by the State Party as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010) and 35th session (UNESCO, 2011);

5.   Notes with concern, that information made available by Kenyan government authorities to the public domain suggests a project of major scale, which may impact the social and cultural unity of Lamu Old Town, its environment and setting, in particular the coastline, tidal flows and the ecological balance of the water catchment area at the Shela sand dunes;

6.   Also expresses its concern about the likely negative impact of the LAPSSET corridor and the new Lamu Port and Metropolis, including secondary developments foreseen, on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

7.   Requests the State Party to halt and prevent any further construction of the new Lamu Port and LAPSSET facilities at Lamu until:

a)  A comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), in conformity with the ICOMOS Guidelines on Heritage Impact Assessments for World Heritage Cultural Properties, to assess the project’s potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value including its social, cultural and religious impacts, have been carried out by independent experts in collaboration with the National Museums of Kenya (NMK),

b)  These EIA and HIA have been submitted to the World Heritage Centre for examination by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies,

c)  Appropriate solutions to ensure that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is fully preserved, have been identified and agreed upon;

8.   Reiterates its request to the State Party to provide detailed information on the development of the LAPSSET corridor and new Lamu Port and Metropolis, and planned secondary developments, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, including but not limited to its scope, exact location of all developments, anticipated construction schedule as well as compensation procedures for traditional and legal land owners, before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse;

9.   Also reiterates its request to the State Party to provide to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies:

a)  The requested maps showing the precise boundaries of the property and the buffer zones areas, indicating those gazetted at present as well as those planned to be gazetted in the near future,

b)  Three printed and electronic copies of the finalized draft Management Plan;

Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.