Lake Turkana National Parks (Kenya) (N 801bis)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1997
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/801/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 35,300
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/801/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
March 2012, April 2015: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring missions
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Impacts of the Gibe III dam
- Other planned hydro-electric developments and associated large-scale irrigation projects in the Omo region
- Oil exploration
- Wildlife populations and pressure from poaching and livestock grazing
- Impacts of the larger development vision for Northern Kenya
- Management capacity of KWS and NMK
- Design of the World Heritage site
Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/801/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015
On 1 February 2015, the State Party of Kenya submitted a joint report on Kenya-Ethiopia bilateral talks (a summary of which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/801/documents/), but did not submit a report addressing the requests made by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session (Doha, 2014). The report presents the following:
- Impounding of the Gibe III dam reservoir in Ethiopia began on 19 January 2015, abstracting water at a rate of 10m3/sec and retaining 15.6% of the water;
- 6,000 hectares of land are currently being irrigated for the Kuraz Sugar Scheme in Ethiopia. 4-6% of water will be abstracted for irrigation during the four months of the dry season;
- The Kenya-Ethiopia bilateral mission team observed that, at the moment, there is no adverse impact from either project on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.
- A joint Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and a detailed hydrological baseline study will be conducted and completed by December 2015;
- A joint expert panel for monitoring basin-wide natural resource management which will work under the existing Ethiopia-Kenya Joint Ministerial Commission will be established to develop mitigation measures in order to ensure that potential negative impacts on the OUV of the property are avoided.
From 3 to 7 April 2015, a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission visited the Gibe III dam and the Kuraz Sugar Scheme projects in Ethiopia, and IUCN met in Nairobi with the Kenyan authorities on 15 and 16 May 2015. The main findings of the mission are presented below, but at the time of writing this report, the final mission report was not yet available.
- 90% of the Gibe III dam project is completed and the impounding of the reservoir is expected to take three years, during which there will be an expected 2m drop in water level in Lake Turkana. In addition, the Gibe III dam is predicted to significantly and permanently dampen the magnitude of natural flow variations from 1.2m to 0.8m;
- The Kuraz Sugar Scheme has seen slow development since the 2012 World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, and has limited impact on the OUV of the property at present;
- No evidence of progress in undertaking the SEA was observed;
- The States Parties of Ethiopia and Kenya recently signed a joint project with UNEP on Sustainable Development of Lake Turkana and its River Basins. Implementation of this project had not yet commenced at the time of writing this report.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
No detailed update is available on the implementation by the State Party of Kenya of the recommendations of the 2012 mission to the property. However, in the mission’s meeting with the State Party of Kenya on 15-16 May 2015, a number of outstanding actions was identified. Recalling the 2012 mission findings that the OUV of the property, as recognized under criterion (x), had been significantly affected due to considerable decline in species, such as reticulated giraffe and Grevy’s zebra, it is noted with significant concern that no baseline data of wildlife species is yet available while wildlife populations continue to be under pressure from over-grazing, overfishing and poaching. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party of Kenya to urgently implement the 2012 mission recommendations and to report on progress achieved.
It is recommended that the Committee welcome the increased bilateral talks between the States Parties of Kenya and Ethiopia, which led to the meeting in January 2015, and the signing of the joint UNEP project on sustainable development. The States Parties’ intention to establish a joint expert panel for monitoring basin-wide natural resource management should also be welcomed.
However, despite the improved dialogue it is noted with concern that the mission found no evidence of progress on the SEA, which was initially requested by the Committee in Decision 36 COM 7B.3. Furthermore, despite the Committee’s strong request not to start filling the dam until a SEA had been completed and reviewed by IUCN, impounding of the Gibe III reservoir has commenced in January 2015.
It is noted with significant concern that the dam is predicted to permanently dampen the magnitude of natural flow variations. This is likely to have impacts on fish stocks and wildlife species that depend on the floodplains of the Omo River and wetlands along the lake’s shore, thereby posing a serious potential danger to the OUV of the property. The additional 2m drop in lake levels during impounding is likely to affect the hydrology and ecology of the lake and threaten the OUV of the property further.
It should also be emphasized that further development of sugar and other plantations in the Omo Valley may have significant long-term impacts on the OUV of the property, which have not been adequately assessed to date. With regards to the Kuraz Sugar Scheme, the full potential impact of the planned 111,650 ha of irrigation once complete requires detailed assessment. It is recommended therefore, that the Committee request the State Party of Ethiopia to delay further expansion until a detailed EIA is undertaken, including a specific assessment of impacts from the development of irrigated agriculture in the Lower Omo on the OUV of the property, using best available hydrological data of the Lower Omo, including its tributaries downstream of the Kuraz Sugar Scheme, and accurate rainfall data.
Furthermore, cumulative impacts from development in Kenya, such as oil exploration and the existing Turkwel dam, and other planned developments in Ethiopia, such as the previously proposed Gibe IV and V dams, also need to be considered. In order to fully assess these potential threats to the OUV of the property, it is therefore of utmost importance that the SEA is completed as a matter of priority as originally requested by the Committee in Decision 36 COM 7B.3, which should include an assessment of cumulative impacts from all ongoing and planned developments in the Turkana Basin on the OUV of the property, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment.
The below draft Decision may be revised when the final mission report is available.
Decision Adopted: 39 COM 7B.4
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B.Add,
- Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.90, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
- Regrets that the report submitted by the State Party of Kenya did not address the requests made by the Committee in Paragraph 10 of its Decision 38 COM 7B.90;
- Recalls the significant impacts of poaching, fishing and livestock grazing on the property reported by the 2012 mission, and requests the State Party of Kenya to urgently implement the outstanding 2012 mission recommendations;
- Welcomes the increased and constructive bilateral discussions between the States Parties of Kenya and Ethiopia, which led to a joint meeting in January 2015 to discuss the impact of Gibe III dam and the Kuraz Sugar Scheme on Lake Turkana World Heritage property, and notes with appreciation the intention of the States Parties of Kenya and Ethiopia to establish a joint expert panel for monitoring basin-wide natural resource management under the existing Ethiopia-Kenya Joint Ministerial Commission;
- Also notes that impounding of the Gibe III hydroelectric dam began in January 2015 despite the Committee’s request to the State Party of Ethiopia not to start filling until a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was completed;
- Notes with concern that no progress in undertaking a SEA has been made by the States Parties as initially requested by the Committee in Decision 36 COM 7B.3 and strongly urges the States Parties of Kenya and Ethiopia to ensure that the SEA is completed as a matter of priority, including an assessment of cumulative impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and also requests the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN: a report demonstrating significant progress in preparing the SEA by 1 February 2016; and the completed SEA by 1 February 2018;
- Also notes the Gibe III dam may dampen the magnitude of flow variations of the Omo River, and that there will be an additional drop in lake levels during the impounding period;
- Notes that the current 6,000 ha of Kuraz Sugar Scheme project has limited impact on the property’s OUV at present, but that the full potential impact of the final proposed project and additional developments require detailed assessment, and also urges the State Party of Ethiopia to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), using best available hydrological data of the Lower Omo, including its tributaries downstream of the Kuraz Sugar Scheme, and accurate rainfall data, and to ensure the findings in relation to any potential impacts on OUV are fully taken into account and submit the EIA as part of the SEA by 2018 to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
- Takes note of the 2015 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring Mission Report, and the exchange of letters between the State Party of Ethiopia and the World Heritage Centre regarding its recommendations, further requests both States Parties to include their response to the mission recommendations in their report to the next session of the World Heritage Committee;
- Requests furthermore the States Parties of Kenya and Ethiopia to continue to make all efforts to ensure protection of the OUV of the property and that any outstanding issues are properly addressed within the existing joint Ministerial Commission and in line with the established procedures of the World Heritage Convention;
- Requests moreover the States Parties of Kenya and Ethiopia to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, a joint updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016.