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

Total amount provided to the property: for a Heritage Impact Assessment in 2014: 85,000 USD: Netherlands Funds-in-Trust; for a workshop on Historic Urban Landscapes in 2011: 22,943 USD: Flanders Funds-in-Trust.

Previous monitoring missions

March 2004: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS monitoring mission; February 2005: World Heritage Centre Advisory mission on water and sanitation assessments; May 2010 and February 2015: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring missions

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

On 1 February 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report for the property. Subsequently, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission took place from 9 to 11 February 2015 in Nairobi, due to the security situation in Lamu. Both reports are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1055/documents.

The State Party reports that the ‘Lamu Port – South Sudan – Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor’ development project is currently on hold following a petition filed at the High Court Judge at the Malindi Land and Environment Court by 146 land owners. The National Museums of Kenya (NMK), responsible for Kenya’s World Heritage properties, will take advantage of this postponement to “fast track” all the pending issues with regards to the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) and the mitigation measures for LAPSSET. Despite this report, the mission was told that construction on the first 3 berths of the new Lamu Port could begin in March or April 2015, and that other preparatory works were still ongoing in areas not related to the court petition. The mission confirmed that the general infrastructural developments will remain as previously planned.  A new city and a “resort city” will be constructed in Lamu County, while at Manda Bay, near the Lamu Old Town, there will be a large 32-berth port and an extended airstrip to accommodate larger planes. The mission noted that works have been completed or are in progress on an administration building, police station, and power and water infrastructure. The mission highlighted the fact that the LAPSSET project is under the direct responsibility of the Office of the Vice President of Kenya, and enjoys apparent autonomy from the Lamu County Council and the NMK, which could allow potential negative impacts to arise.

The mission confirmed that, although the current preparatory works do not pose a direct threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of property, negative impacts could arise from a power station in Manda Bay and also from development in Lamu associated with the LAPSSET project, unless strong building controls are put in place.  Living Swahili culture could be also vulnerable to major urban transformation, increased tourism and pollution.  The mission was informed orally that in order to reduce negative impacts, a pledge not to construct direct LAPSSET developments on the islands of the Lamu archipelago was being considered; however, this has not been confirmed by the State Party in writing.  There is also still an issue of indirect development.

The HIA on the LAPSSET project was successfully carried-out in 2014 and explored the potential impacts and proposed mitigation measures. The State Party reviewed the HIA and presented its recommendations to the NMK Board for adoption, as well as to the Kenya Minister for Sports Culture and the Arts.  Moreover, the mission reported that a Strategic Impact Assessment will be conducted for the entire LAPSSET project.

While the State Party reports that the extra chapter of the Management Plan addressing threats from LAPSSET was completed, the mission was informed orally that it is still being prepared.   

Although the State Party reports that the high level of community participation in the HIA process, as well as their involvement in the reactive monitoring mission, demonstrates the importance the State Party places on local community stakeholder involvement in the development and implementation of planning and mitigation measures to offset the impacts of the LAPSSET project, the mission concluded that there is a need for more engagement with local communities.

The State Party reports that an NMK surveyor was deployed to Lamu in December 2014 to map out the new boundaries and buffer zone and that these documents have been sent to the World Heritage Centre for approval; however, these maps have not yet been received, although the mission was able to review them.

The mission concluded that there is a need for stronger development controls for the property and its setting, for a stronger management system, for clarification of the boundaries and for an extended buffer zone.

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

Despite the State Party report, the mission team found that the LAPSSET project has not been halted, as requested by the Committee in order to allow time to fully understand its wider direct and indirect impacts, and put in place appropriate mitigation measures. Although the HIA undertaken in 2014 sets out potential impacts and potential mitigation measures, there is currently no clear understanding of how such measures might be put in place, nor how the processes of dialogue might reach that understanding.

There is a need for more information to be provided on what work has been undertaken so far and on the overall scope of the project (as some parts still remains unclear), as well as on precise details of specific aspects, such as the Manda Airport extension, the Lamu resort city, fishing plans, mangrove planting and surveys of coastal morphology. Although an update was provided orally to the mission team, an official written update is needed to confirm the overall scope and the progress made to date.

Furthermore, there is also a need to improve working systems in order to allow ongoing dialogue with key stakeholders so that potential impacts can be fully assessed and mitigation measures discussed at appropriate times as the project proceeds. In particular, closer collaboration is needed among LAPSSET and Lamu City Council and the NMK, as well as the site manager.  A much greater engagement is also needed with local communities so that they are fully aware of the scope of the project as well as opportunities and developmental impacts.

Although the mission considered that the preparatory work that had already been undertaken did not impact directly on the property, there is nevertheless concern that there could be negative impacts, unless LAPSSET development is excluded from the Lamu archipelago, as informally suggested by the State Party during the mission.

Even if official LAPSSET development projects are kept off the islands, much stronger development controls and management systems need to be put in place within the property and its setting to cope with potential development associated with LAPSETT. The property boundary also needs to be clearly defined and its buffer zone needs to be extended in order to provide a robust system of control and assessment. The idea of additional constraints being put in place by a proposed Special Conservation Area for the entirety of the Lamu Archipelago, as suggested during the mission, is welcomed.

Although the State Party is proposing to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the whole project including impacts on the OUV, and this is to be welcomed, there remains a need to strengthen the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIAs) to ensure the dynamics of the coastal morphology in relation to the Lamu islands are fully respected and for further HIAs to be undertaken for individual aspects of the project. It would be desirable if the HIAs are formalized as part of the wider SEA.

Given the size and scope of this major development project, and the resources drawn in to achieve its delivery, it is suggested that the Committee might wish to request consideration be given to the inclusion of a conservation dimension to benefit the property. This could support programmes for traditional, sustainable livelihoods and traditional Swahili practices, including building, as well as oral traditions.

Decision Adopted: 39 COM 7B.40

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 34 COM 7B.46, 35 COM 7B.39, 36 COM 7B.43, 37 COM 7B.40 and 38 COM 7B.49, adopted at its 34th (Brasilia, 2010), 35th (UNESCO, 2011), 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012), 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) and 38th (Doha, 2014) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes that the February 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission had to take place in Nairobi due to the security situation in Lamu;
  4. Regrets that, despite reporting to the contrary, the State Party did not halt the LAPSSET project in order to allow time for a full assessment of its wider direct and indirect impacts on the property and for appropriate mitigation measures to be defined and implemented;
  5. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, details of work so far undertaken for LAPSSET near the property, as well as precise details for the Manda Airport extension and the Lamu resort city, and clarification of fishing plans, mangrove planting, and surveys of coastal morphology;
  6. Also requests the State Party to confirm whether the scope of the LAPSSET project will exclude the Lamu archipelago, as suggested to the mission;
  7. Welcomes the detailed Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) undertaken in 2014 on the LAPSSET project and its clear assessment of potential adverse impacts, and stresses the need for detailed discussion among the State Party, the developer, local communities and other stakeholders on how the proposed mitigation measure outlined might be addressed;
  8. Invites the State Party to submit HIAs for individual major parts of the overall project; also welcomes the proposed Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and encourages the State Party to ensure that the 2014 HIA is included as an annex to the SEA;
  9. Urges the State Party to strengthen the integration of the LAPSSET project with the Lamu City Council and the National Museums of Kenya (NMK), including appointing an NMK representative on the LAPSSET Board, and to widen and strengthen community engagement;
  10. Also urges the State Party as soon as possible to put in place stronger development controls for the property and its setting; and recalls its request for the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, the new chapter of the management plan, covering the LAPSSET development project and integrating the results of the HIA;
  11. Reiterates its requests made at its previous sessions for the State Party to furnish maps clarifying the boundaries of the property, and further requests the State Party to define and submit proposals for extending the buffer zone to cover Lamu and Manda islands as a minor boundary modification as soon as they are completed and approved;
  12. Further welcomes the detailed recommendations of the 2015 mission and requests furthermore the State Party to take them into account in the development of the LAPSSET project;
  13. Requests moreover the State Party to give consideration to the inclusion of a conservation dimension within the LAPSSET project that could support programmes for traditional, sustainable livelihoods and traditional Swahili practices, including building as well as oral traditions;
  14. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, an 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.