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Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley

Kenya
Factors affecting the property in 2014*
  • Housing
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Renewable energy facilities
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2014
Requests approved: 3 (from 1999-2006)
Total amount approved : 45,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2014**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN received information about a number of issues related to the management and the state of conservation of the property, namely uncontrolled and unregulated new buildings on the shores of Lake Elementaita, concerns of the involvement of the Endorois people in the nomination of the Lake Bogoria component and the development of geothermal power plants at Lake Bogoria. On 9 October 2013, 3 February 2014 and 16 April 2014 respectively, the World Heritage Centre sent letters to the State Party to verify the information. The State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property on 24 March 2014.

  • Uncontrolled and unregulated new buildings on the shores of Lake Elementaita: According to the information received, several buildings were under construction including a hotel, within the riparian land around the lake. Plans to build an additional 50 houses are reportedly underway. In its report, the State Party confirms that developments had started in part of Ututu Conservancy to the South of the lake, which forms part of a critical buffer zone, without any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) having been undertaken. In December 2012, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) issued an Environmental Restoration Order to the developer. Responses from various stakeholders to address the situation have been slow. On 28 February 2014, a stakeholder meeting was held which resulted in an action plan to address the issue. A 1-year moratorium on development of new facilities in the riparian area was expected to be put in place as of 30 March 2014.
  • Concerns about the involvement of the Endorois people in the nomination of Lake Bogoria: The World Heritage Centre was informed by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) about the lack of free, prior and informed consent from the Endorois community for the inscription of Lake Bogoria on the World Heritage List, and concerns on the lack of participation of the Endorois in management and decision making. On 5 November 2011, through its Resolution 197 “[…] on the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights in the context of the World Heritage Convention and the designation of Lake Bogoria as a World Heritage site”, the ACHPR “[urged] the Government of Kenya, the World Heritage Committee and UNESCO to ensure the full and effective participation of the Endorois in the decision-making regarding the “Kenya Lake System” World Heritage area, through their own representative institutions”. ACHPR Resolution 197 also recalls Communication 276 / 2003 brought on behalf of the Endorois Welfare Council (EWC). The State Party did not provide comments on the concerns raised by the ACHPR in its report.
  • Development of geothermal power plants at Lake Bogoria: Information was received about plans for the development of geothermal energy in the Bogoria-Silali block, including Lake Bogoria, with eight 100 MW power plants projected to be completed by 2017. No reply has been received from the State Party at the time of writing of this report.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2014

It is recommended that the Committee note the concerns raised by the ACHPR in their Communication 276 / 2003 in favour of the EWC, following EWC’s complaint regarding the lack of recognition of their right to development, and in subsequent and related ACHPR resolutions concerning the World Heritage listing of Lake Bogoria, and urge the State Party to respond to ACHPR regarding these resolutions.

The possible development of geothermal energy within the property is likely to have a significant impact on its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and should not be permitted. Any planned development of geothermal energy outside the property should be subject to rigorous environmental assessment, including a specific assessment of potential impacts on the OUV of the property, in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment.

The State Party provided information regarding proposed actions to address the issue of developments at Lake Elementaita, including a moratorium on further developments. However, there is concern that neither the Environmental Restoration Order from NEMA, nor the action plan as laid out in the State Party’s report, appear to foresee any removal of illegal development and the ecological restoration of the affected area. The developments, in close proximity to the hot springs and Pelican breeding islets, and in an area of critical habitats for birds and fish, are likely to have a significant adverse impact on the OUV of the property, and should therefore not be permitted.

There is also some further concern about the reported plans by the State Party of Tanzania to construct a soda ash plant on the shores of Lake Natron. Lake Natron is the most important breeding site for Lesser Flamingo in the world, with 75% of the global population of Lesser Flamingo hatching there. Its protection and conservation is of great importance to the integrity of the property, and it is worth recalling that, at the time of inscription of the property, the Committee encouraged the State Party of Tanzania and other relevant States Parties to consider potential serial extensions, including Lake Natron, to the property. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party of Tanzania to provide further information on this development, recalling Article 6 of the Convention which stipulates that “Each State Party to this Convention undertakes not to take any deliberate measures which might damage directly or indirectly the cultural and natural heritage […] situated on the territory of other States Parties to this Convention.”

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2014
38 COM 7B.91
Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley (Kenya) (N 1060rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 35 COM 8B.6, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),
  3. Welcomes the decision of the State Party to stop further developments in part of the Ututu Conservancy on the southern shores of Lake Elementaita, including a 1-year moratorium on developments in riparian areas, considers that the developments in close proximity to fragile habitats and in a critical buffer zone to the property is likely to have significant adverse impacts on its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and requests the State Party to ensure that any existing illegal developments are removed, and affected areas ecologically restored;
  4. Notes the resolutions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) with regard to the recognition of rights of the Endorois in relation to Lake Bogoria, and urges the State Party to respond to ACHPR regarding these resolutions and to ensure full and effective participation of the Endorois in the management and decision-making of the property, and in particular the Lake Bogoria component, through their own representative institutions;
  5. Also considers that any development of geothermal energy within the property is likely to have a significant impact on its OUV and should not be permitted, and also requests the State Party to ensure that any proposed development of geothermal energy outside the property is subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), including a specific assessment of potential direct, indirect and cumulative impacts on the OUV of the property, in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment;
  6. Further requests the State Party of Tanzania to provide to the World Heritage Centre further information on reported plans for the construction of a soda ash plant at Lake Natron, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and to ensure that the EIA for this project assesses its potential adverse impacts on the OUV of the property;
  7. Reiterates its encouragement to the States Parties of Kenya and Tanzania to cooperate regarding the effective conservation of Lake Natron and other lakes in the region, and to consider further potential serial extensions as part of a potential transnational serial World Heritage property, taking account of relevant recent thematic studies by Birdlife International and IUCN;
  8. Requests furthermore the State Party of Kenya to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, a report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property, and on the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.

Draft Decision:   38 COM 7B.91

The World Heritage Committee,

  1.   Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add,
  2.   Recalling Decision 35 COM 8B.6, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),
  3.   Welcomes the decision of the State Party to stop further developments in part of the Ututu Conservancy on the southern shores of Lake Elementaita, including a 1-year moratorium on developments in riparian areas, considers that the developments in close proximity to fragile habitats and in a critical buffer zone to the property is likely to have significant adverse impacts on its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and requests the State Party to ensure that any existing illegal developments are removed, and affected areas ecologically restored;
  4.   Notesthe resolutions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) with regard to the recognition of rights of the Endorois in relation to Lake Bogoria, and urges the State Party to respond to ACHPR regarding these resolutions and to ensure full and effective participation of the Endorois in the management and decision-making of the property, and in particular the Lake Bogoria component, through their own representative institutions;
  5.   Also considers that any development of geothermal energy within the property is likely to have a significant impact on its OUV and should not be permitted, and also requests the State Party to ensure that any proposed development of geothermal energy outside the property is subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), including a specific assessment of potential direct, indirect and cumulative impacts on the OUV of the property, in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment;
  6.   Further requests the State Party of Tanzania to provide to the World Heritage Centre further information on reported plans for the construction of a soda ash plant at Lake Natron, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and to ensure that the EIA for this project assesses its potential adverse impacts on the OUV of the property;
  7.   Reiterates its encouragement to the States Parties of Kenya and Tanzania to cooperate regarding the effective conservation of Lake Natron and other lakes in the region, and to consider further potential serial extensions as part of a potential transnational serial World Heritage property, taking account of relevant recent thematic studies by Birdlife International and IUCN;
  8.   Requests furthermore the State Party of Kenya to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, a report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property, and on the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.
Report year: 2014
Kenya
Date of Inscription: 2011
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 38COM (2014)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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