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 https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1055/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2000-2000)
Total amount approved: USD 15,924
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1055/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003

The Centre received information from the National Museums of Kenya of the uncontrolled plans to construct houses and hotels on the island of Lamu likely to affect the authenticity and the integrity of the island. Following discussions held between the Centre and the Kenya Delegation to UNESCO, the Delegation indicated that they were aware of the situation and that they would send a letter to Kenyan authorities concerning the issue. As a follow up to these discussions, the Centre sent a letter dated 31 March addressed to the Delegation requesting further information concerning the site. The reply to this letter has yet to be received.

The Centre received a letter dated 17 March 2003 from the Senator of Indre-et-Loire, Mayor of Chinon, transmitting a file concerning Lamu sent to him for his examination concerning Lamu site. In addition to other documents the file contain a petition addressed to the Kenyan authorities which mention that:

·   Lamu’s environment and cultural heritage are endangered;

·  The waterfront is under threat: the old Custom House is being destroyed in spite of the Lamu Museum warnings and protestations through letters dated August 2002 from the Director of National Museums and the Lamu Museum curator in which the Museums authorities requested that the site be reviewed for protection for its historical and archaeological significance; and that;

·  Sand dunes are threatened by uncontrolled developments.

The petition further recommends that:

·  UNESCO should extend the World Heritage listing to include the whole of Lamu Island;

·  No further allotment of sand dunes should be allowed;

·  New houses should conform in scale and style to traditional buildings;

·   A permanent advisory committee should be set up to watch upon the island’s development, with representatives from National Museums, UNESCO, architects, and Lamu residents. 

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


Decision Adopted: 27 COM 7B.31

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Commends the government of Kenya for its commitment to address the concerns over the physical developments on the Lamu Island and welcomes Kenya's availability to co-operate with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS for a mission to Lamu;

2. Requests the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, in cooperation with the State Party to undertake a mission to ascertain the state of conservation of Lamu;

3. Further requests the State Party to collaborate with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS in the development of a programme for the rehabilitation of Lamu and to identify needs for assistance from the World Heritage Fund and from other sources for the rehabilitation activities of the property;

4. Also requests a report following the World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission on the state of conservation of Lamu for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 28th session in 2004.