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: for a Heritage Impact Assessment in 2014: USD 85,000: Netherlands Funds-in-Trust; for a workshop on Historic Urban Landscapes in 2011: USD 22,943: Flanders Funds-in-Trust 

Previous monitoring missions

March 2004: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive 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; January 2018: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Advisory mission (Nairobi) on LAPSSET project

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 2018

A state of conservation report was received from the State Party on 1 February 2018, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1055/documents/.  The requested joint Reactive Monitoring mission could not be carried out to Lamu as a result of security considerations, but an Advisory mission took place in Nairobi, from 24 to 26 January 2018 (see mission report at the above-mentioned weblink).

The State Party reports that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Lamu Port−South Sudan−Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor Development Authority and the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) reported on in its 2017 state of conservation report has not yet been finalized, but that its principles will be completed by a technical working team. 

The State Party acknowledges the potential threats from the LAPSSET project to the conservation of cultural and other heritage, and reiterates the pledge of the LAPSSET Authority not to implement projects within the Lamu Archipelago. It further states that a revised Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the entire corridor examining impacts on cultural and natural heritage will be prepared following the Advisory mission to take into account its recommendations. Detailed development plans have been broken down into component parts and plans are being prepared for each.  A Master Plan for the Lamu Metropolis has been developed, and the EU-supported project on transportation infrastructure is ongoing.  The Development Plan for Lamu Port and the Lamu metropolis Investment Framework Plan foresee a reduced urban and special economic zone footprint with special conservation areas on the islands. 

The State Party clarifies that the work carried out at Manda Airport was a rehabilitation rather than a new project, therefore not necessitating a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA).  It requests that the next Reactive Monitoring mission visit the airport to have a better sense of the work that was carried out.

As the Advisory mission could not visit the property, it focused primarily on the threats from the LAPSSET project and discussions with various stakeholders and expressed concern about the density of development.  While recognizing the commitment of the State Party to not undertake any “official” LAPSSET developments on the islands of the archipelago, the mission found that a project of this scale and scope would have profound negative impacts on the setting of the property, which will come from supplementary development by developers and others prompted by the LAPSSET project.  There is a need for the State Party to develop and implement adequate planning and mitigation measures, and a very robust monitoring system. The mission considered that the SEA did not adequately cover the issue of impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.  A revised version is needed with a specific chapter on the potential impacts on OUV and related mitigation measures. It also noted the lack of clarity in the management relationships between the LAPSSET Authority, the NMK, and the local government.  The mission was shown proposed buffer zones that are smaller than the ones presented to the 2015 mission and smaller than proposed at the time of inscription.  The mission considered that these are not sufficient to protect the property from the strong development pressures that will be brought in as a part of the LAPSSET project and from private developers. 

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

The efforts of the State Party to respond to the decisions of the Committee are well noted.  There remains concern however that the LAPSSET’s scope may continue to have significant impacts on the OUV of the property if proper planning and decision-making structures are not put in place in the near future.  

The State Party should revise the SEA for the whole LAPSSET development to include a chapter on the impacts on cultural and natural heritage, and specifically the impacts on the OUV of both Lamu Old Town and Lake Turkana National Parks World Heritage properties.  Furthermore, the HIA already carried out for the first phase of the LAPSSET project should be annexed to the SEA. 

Adequate mitigation measures should also be proposed to protect the property and its wider setting.

It is also noted that a number of documents are in preparation by the LAPSSET Authority including a revised master plan for the Lamu Metropolis, an EU transportation infrastructure plan, and the LAPSSET Planning and Investment Framework.  These documents should include the commitment of the State Party that LAPSSET developments will not take place on the islands of the archipelago and will not have significant impacts on the OUV of the property, either directly or through its setting. These plans should clearly indicate which areas are protected from development. All these documents should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies as soon as drafts are completed and before they are approved to ensure that the final documents include adequate protection for the OUV of the property. 

The commitment of the LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority not to carry out any developments on the islands in the Lamu archipelago will not necessarily halt other developments that could impact on the wider setting of the property. There is a need to ensure that that there are adequate planning measures and development controls in place (e.g., restrictions on height, building materials, land use and the use of HIAs.), to control spillover development. This includes the proposed Resort City, which may have significant impacts if necessary guidelines are not put in place. 

Concerning the coal power plant planned in the vicinity of the property, the State Party should carry out additional studies to ascertain any effects that the resulting pollution may have on the fragile coral stone buildings of the Old Town and any other impacts on other attributes that carry the OUV of the property.

The MoU mentioned in the 2017 state of conservation report must be put in place as soon as possible to allow NMK to become a member of the board of LAPSSET, as pledged during the 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission. 

The chapter on LAPSSET in the Management Plan also still needs revision to reflect the most recent changes to the LAPSSET proposals. 

It is suggested that the Committee recommend to the State Party that it set up a significant funding mechanism to deal with conservation issues, including training in the use of traditional building technologies and materials, within the Lamu World Heritage property as the LAPSSET project continues to develop.

In order to protect the immediate and wider setting, there remains an urgent need for the State Party to reconsider the buffer zone and accompanying development controls and building regulations, as has been requested by the Committee in past decisions.  This buffer zone should be of adequate size to protect the OUV of the property and should include at a minimum all of Lamu Island, the parts of Manda Island visible from the property, and the larger mangrove areas.  The State Party should submit a proposal for a Minor Boundary Modification to the World Heritage Centre, which sets out the extent of a revised buffer zone around the property, as soon as possible.  

It is noted that the Reactive Monitoring mission was unable to take place at the property due to security concerns.  It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to invite a mission as soon as the security situation allows.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7B.45

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 39 COM 7B.40, 40 COM 7B.12 and 41 COM 7B.69, adopted at its 39th (Bonn, 2015), 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively,
  3. Noting the recommendations of the Advisory mission carried out to Nairobi, Kenya from 24 to 26 January 2018,
  4. Notes the efforts of the State Party to respond to the decision of the Committee with regards to the Lamu Port−South Sudan−Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project;
  5. Reiterates its concern that the scope of the LAPSSET project may continue to have significant impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  6. Requests the State Party to revise the draft Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the entire LAPSSET project to include a chapter on the impacts and proposed mitigation measures for cultural and natural heritage, and specifically the impacts on the OUV of Lamu Old Town;
  7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre drafts of the revised Master Plan for the Lamu Metropolis, the EU transportation infrastructure plan, the LAPSSET Planning and Investment Framework, and the revised chapter on LAPSSET of the Management Plan for the property, for review by the Advisory Bodies as soon as they are completed and before they are approved;
  8. Takes note of the commitment of the State Party not to allow LAPSSET developments on the islands of the Lamu Archipelago, but considering that there could be a spillover effect from other development related to LAPSSET, further requests the State Party to:
    1. Develop necessary planning measures and development controls (including restrictions on height, building materials, land use and use of HIAs) to ensure that any spillover developments in the setting of the property do not have a negative impact on its OUV,
    2. As a matter of urgency, and as requested in a number of previous Committee decisions, submit a proposal for a Minor Boundary Modification to the World Heritage Centre which sets out the extent of a revised buffer zone around the property including at a minimum all of Lamu Island, the parts of Manda Island visible from the property, and the larger mangrove areas,
    3. Carry out additional studies to ascertain any effects that the pollution resulting from the coal-fired power plant may have on the fragile coral stone buildings of the Old Town and any other impacts on other attributes that carry the OUV of the property;
  9. Requests furthermore the State Party to complete the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority and the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) to include the NMK on the LAPSSET Board, as mentioned during the 2015 mission;
  10. Recommends that the State Party set up a significant funding mechanism to deal with conservation issues, including training in traditional building technologies and the use of traditional building materials, within the Lamu Old Town World Heritage property as the LAPSSET project continues to develop;
  11. Requests moreover the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, once the necessary security clearance has been obtained, in order to examine the state of advancement of the LAPSSET project as well as the state of conservation of the property, and to hold discussions with local stakeholder groups;
  12. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019.