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 2000-2010)
Total amount approved: USD 31,776
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1055/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided: 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 https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1055/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 12 February 2016, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1055/documents and, in response to specific requests of the Committee, reports the following:

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

While it is acknowledged that the first two buildings constructed on the mainland as part of the LAPSSET project do not have an impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, these two buildings are just part of a first phase of a much larger project which overall has a strong potential to impact on the OUV of the property in the future. 

The 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission requested a series of actions to be undertaken which would form the basis for an evaluation of the overall impact of the LAPSSET project on the property. These included the provision of documentation on the revised LAPSSET project as a whole, including plans for the extension of the airport on Manda Island, documentation on work already undertaken, the provision of a SEA for the LAPSSET project as a whole (building on the existing HIA for the port), for review and, on the basis of that review, the development of strengthened building regulations within the property, and a revised management plan to take into account the pressures that would result from the LAPSSET development.

The State Party has not supplied any updated information on the overall scope of the LAPSSET project and no plans or impact studies were submitted prior to the work being carried out on the upgrading of the Manda Airport, where it is reported a new terminal building has been completed along with an extension of the runway.  From the pictures which accompany the report, it seems that the development is substantial and it is unknown what impacts might result from this new airport infrastructure on the island adjacent to the property.

The State Party reports that future port developments on the Lamu Mainland will incorporate a sufficient buffer for Lamu Island and the property, but without giving any details as to how the impacts identified within the 2014 HIA on the first phase of the LAPSSET project would be mitigated, nor how it intends to implement the recommendations from the HIA.  

Furthermore, no details have been given as to how or when the requested SEA for the entire LAPSSET project will be carried out.  This impact assessment is considered crucial to understanding the overall potential impacts on the OUV of the property. Without such an assessment, it is not possible to define mitigation measures or necessary changes to strengthen the protection, development control and management of the property and its setting.

In regard to the buffer zone of the property, the World Heritage Committee, over many years, has requested that it be extended to deal with issues such as water catchment and visual impacts.  With the onset of the LAPSSET project, the extension of the buffer zone becomes more crucial as a means to control the potential negative impacts of the project on the OUV of the property and its setting that includes Lamu and Manda islands, and beyond. While the LAPSSET project itself may not build any infrastructure projects within the Lamu archipelago, the development pressures that result from LAPSSET will most likely have a strong impact on the archipelago as evidenced already by the extension of the Manda Airport. 

The State Party has indicated that it does not intend to extend the buffer zone beyond what was proposed to the 2015 mission, which the mission considered inadequate. It should be noted, however, that even this buffer zone proposed to the 2015 mission has not been formally submitted to the World Heritage Centre as a request for minor boundary modification.  The best approach now would be to wait until the SEA has been carried out.  At that time, it will be possible to better understand what the proper boundaries of the buffer zone should be, as well as the necessary protection and planning controls for the buffer zone and other parts of the setting of the property.  

It is recommended that the Committee express its concern that infrastructure and other projects associated with the LAPSSET project are being progressed in advance of a SEA being undertaken and without any additional formal constraints being put in place to protect the property and its setting from the associated development of the port project.

It is also recommended that the Committee consider urging the State Party to undertake, as a matter of priority, the SEA of the overall LAPSSET project so that its review can begin to identify ways to strengthen the protection of the property and its setting zone, to ensure that the port project and its associated infrastructure and development do not have a major negative impact on the property.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7B.12

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 34 COM 7B.46, 35 COM 7B.39, 36 COM 7B.43, 37 COM 7B.40, 38 COM 7B.49, and 39 COM 7B.40, adopted at its 34th (Brasilia, 2010), 35th (UNESCO, 2011), 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012), 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013), 38th (Doha, 2014), and 39th (Bonn, 2015) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the assurance of the State Party that the Lamu-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor project will exclude the Lamu archipelago; but notes that the project will cause strong related development pressures for the entire region including the archipelago;
  4. Expresses its concern that ongoing work on the LAPSSET project, including the completion of the first two buildings on the Lamu mainland, along with the construction of Manda airport, are progressing, without the development of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), as requested by the Committee,
  5. Urges the State Party to undertake, as a matter of priority, the already requested SEA of the overall LAPSSET project, as a basis for identifying ways to strengthen the protection, development control and management of the property, including a reconsideration of the buffer zone, and to ensure that the Port project and its associated infrastructure and development do not have a major negative impact on the property and its setting; and requests the submission of the SEA to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, by 1 February 2017;
  6. Reiterates its request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, as soon as possible in advance of the SEA being undertaken, and by 1 October 2016, for review by the Advisory Bodies, full details of the overall scope of the LAPSSET project, including the Lamu resort city, and clarification of fishing plans, mangrove planting, and surveys of coastal morphology;
  7. Regrets that details of the project for Manda airport, including the construction of a new terminal building and the lengthening of the runway, was not submitted to the World Heritage Centre with a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), as requested, before the project was approved, and also requests the State Party to provide details of this project to the World Heritage Centre;
  8. Also regrets that no progress has been reported on the revision of the management plan to include a new chapter covering the LAPSSET development project on how the impacts identified within the 2014 HIA on the first phase would be mitigated, how recommendations from the HIA will be implemented, and how the wider setting of the property will be protected, whether by an enlarged buffer zone or other means;
  9. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to take into account the recommendations of both the 2014 HIA and the 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission as it continues to develop the LAPSSET project and to strengthen the integration of the LAPSSET project with the Lamu City Council and the National Museums of Kenya (NMK), including, in particular, by appointing an NMK representative on the LAPSSET Board, and to widen and strengthen community engagement;
  10. Considers that in the absence of adequate detailed information and impact assessments on the overall major LAPSSET project, and any detailed understanding as to how the already identified negative impacts from the first phase will be mitigated, that the property is under potential danger from the acknowledged development pressures associated with the port project;
  11. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, 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 41st session in 2017.