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 2000-2004)
Total amount approved: USD 22,876
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1055/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

22 to 27 March 2004: Joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Lack of management plan;

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

c) Sewerage situation;

d) Lack of resources.

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

On 27 February 2008, the State Party provided to the World Heritage Centre a progress report on the implementation of the Decision adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007).

Management plan

In regard to the management plan, the report states that it still only has a draft status, and that a “Third Consultative Forum on the adoption of the Lamu management plan” is to take place in mid 2008. While it is extremely positive that the State Party has developed a thorough participatory framework within which the management plan is being developed, it is desirable that this meeting take place as soon as possible to finalize the plan and ensure its adoption by the relevant authorities so that it will come into force. It should also be noted that the Action Plan requested by the World Heritage Committee has yet to be developed. This step is perhaps waiting for the finalization of the management plan itself. The report also mentions the creation of a regional development plan for Lamu District. This plan, which is set to be published in 2008, covers overall development in the district, and is said to take into account the management plan prepared by the National Museums of Kenya and Lamu County Council.

b) Buffer zone

In regard to the gazzettment of the Manda – Ras Kitau area as an extension to the buffer zone, this is considered a very important step in protecting the outstanding universal value of the property. The State Party indicates that there are some difficulties being encountered due to the multiple responsibilities of various state institutions. This overlapping authority requires careful discussions with all interested parties to ensure proper protection. The State Party indicates that a concept paper has been prepared and negotiations are ongoing with the other government authorities regarding the extension of the buffer zone.

The report also notes that a concept paper has been developed for improved risk management in the property, which is currently awaiting donor funding.

c) Infrastructure

The report indicates that the Lamu County Council has been overwhelmed by the amount of solid waste generated by the increasing development of the island. The report indicates that a local community based organization has stepped in to provide additional vehicles for waste transport and has undertaken other initiatives. These efforts need to be consolidated and institutionalized in order to ensure their ongoing sustainability. The report also indicates that a total of 30,000,000 Kenyan Shillings has been allocated by the State Party for upgrading of the water supply in and around the World Heritage property. In regard to sanitation, the Lamu County Council has agreed to fund the costs for sanitation engineer to draft a proposal for improved sewage and drainage. This proposal will then be sent to an already identified donor for possible funding.

d) Documentation

Other activities undertaken by the State Party to improve the conservation and management of the Lamu Old Town include the beginning of a new documentation project to update the building inventory and computerize all of the records (including introducing GIS). The National Museums of Kenya is also currently developing a project to restore one of the Grade One buildings that collapsed in 2005 (using public funds). Improved heritage mapping of archaeological assets within the World Heritage property and surrounding areas is also being carried out as are improvements to the presentation of the property.

e) Other development issues

The State Party also pointed out several development issues that may have a potential effect on the property. The Ministry of Energy and the National Oil Corporation have inaugurated exploration of oil along some part of the Kenyan coastline and on several off-shore beds. Preliminary reports indicate however that there may not be sufficient oil reserve for commercial exploitation. The National Muums of Kenya has indicated that a comprehensive cultural impact study will be necessary if exploration continues.

The State Party also reports the possibility of developing a new port facility within the Lamu district. A comprehensive cultural impact study will be necessary if this project continues to be developed.

The report also indicates that climate change may also be an issue in the future due to rising sea levels but indicates that currently, no changes have been detected.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies view in a positive manner the various steps being undertaken by the State Party to improve the conservation and management of the property. Nevertheless, they are concerned that rapid, uncontrolled development is still occurring within the relatively fragile urban fabric of the property and its buffer zone. Even though the report calls attention to this continued development as economically positive, the Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Centre strongly recommend that the development be carried out with great attention to the heritage values of the property. 

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


Decision Adopted: 32 COM 7B.48

The World Heritage Committee,

1. 32.COM/7B, Having examined Document WHC-08/

2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7B.50, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Notes the State Party's continued work on the management plan, which involved stakeholders and the local community, as well as its progress on the extension of the buffer zone and improvement of the property's infrastructure;

4. Reiterates its concern about the ongoing uncontrolled development at the property;

5. Also notes with concern oil exploration near the property and the possible construction of the new port facility and requests the State Party to keep the World Heritage Committee informed of any potential impacts on the property;

6. Strongly urges the State Party to continue work on the extension of the buffer zone and the protection of the property;

7. Also urges the State Party to continue its efforts to improve the infrastructure in order to sustain the progress already made;

8. Also requests the State Party to finalize and approve the management plan as soon as possible so that it may be implemented;

9. Further requests the State Party to prepare the supplementary action plan as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007) to include the identification of the key stakeholders for various actions as well as the necessary timeframe for carrying them out;

10. Requests moreoverthe State Party to submit the published regional development plan and the final management plan in three copies for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;

11. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2010, a progress report on the implementation of these recommendations, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010.