Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1997
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/801/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 35,300
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/801/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
March 2012 and April 2015: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring missions
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/801/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018
On 26 January 2017, the State Party submitted a progress report and on 1 December 2017, a status report, followed by a more comprehensive report on 4 January 2018 (a summary of which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/801/documents/). The State Party reports as follows:
In May 2017, the State Party of Ethiopia transmitted two letters to the World Heritage Centre, which noted that the artificial flow releases from the Gibe III reservoir had led to a relatively constant water level between October-November 2016, and which decreased in December 2016 as per seasonal fluctuations. It noted that the impacts of the Gibe III dam on the property will be assessed in the SEA, which will also propose mitigation measures.
Additional details of the Kuraz project were provided in the State Party of Ethiopia’s report on Lower Valley of the Omo (Ethiopia), available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/17/documents/, reporting that the scale of the project has been reduced to four sugar factories, two of which are operational with planned cultivation of 100,000 ha. A November 2017 EIA scoping report was annexed to the report.
On 18 January 2018, the World Heritage Centre requested details from the State Party of Kenya on the implementation of the 2012 and 2015 mission recommendations, an update on the current status of the multiple projects in the Basin, and a complete response on how it is ensuring adequate water flow from the Omo River. No response has been received.
Details of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project were shared with the January 2018 Reactive Monitoring mission to Lamu Old Town.
On 28 February 2018, the State Party of Kenya submitted a draft revised Management Plan 2018-2028 for the property, which proposes to strengthen ecological monitoring, community involvement, and tourism programmes.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
While the collaboration between the States Parties of Kenya and Ethiopia, including the progress made towards establishing JTEP, is noted, it is of utmost concern that the implementation of the SEA, which the Committee requested to be completed by 1 February 2018 (Decision 39 COM 7B.4), has not started. At the request of the State Party of Kenya, the World Heritage Centre approached UNEP for potential funding for the SEA, but recommended that the States Parties seek additional sources to urgently move ahead with the SEA. It should be noted that the cost of undertaking the SEA is minor in comparison to that of the development projects.
It should be recalled that the States Parties had agreed with the Committee that the SEA would be the mechanism to assess impacts, identify mitigation measures and set a timeframe to implement it. With the SEA still pending, the Gibe III dam is moving into operation, and the Kuraz irrigation project continues. As a result, it is unlikely that appropriate mitigation measures can still be taken to ensure a sufficient and seasonally varied waterflow into Lake Turkana, which is needed to conserve its biodiversity and ecosystem processes. It seems therefore likely that the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) could degrade quickly.
The dam’s impacts on the lake water levels are already becoming evident. Although Ethiopia reports stable water levels except for seasonal changes, the data provided shows an overall rapid decline in water levels since January 2015 when the impounding of the Gibe III reservoir commenced, and that seasonal fluctuation patterns have been heavily disrupted. As already noted by the 2012 Reactive Monitoring mission, the disruption of the natural flooding regime is likely to have a negative impact on the fish population in Lake Turkana, which may in turn affect the balance of the ecosystem, the livelihoods of the local fishing communities and the floodplains, which support herbivore species.
The EIA scoping report for the Kuraz project does not assess potential downstream impacts on the property, such as reduced water flow and contamination from fertilizers and pesticides. Although the scale of the project has been reduced, it is likely to increase water consumption from the Omo River. Furthermore, like an SEA, an EIA should be conducted before activities commence, not afterwards. It is recommended that the Committee strongly urge the State Party of Ethiopia to halt all activities in relation to the Kuraz project until the EIA has been completed and reviewed by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies.
Given the potential irreversible loss of the property’s OUV caused by impacts of these developments on the water flow, the Committee has considered inscribing the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger on three previous occasions since 2012. In light of the transpiring changes in the water flow and the ecosystem, the lack of the SEA, adequate EIAs and mitigation measures, the property’s OUV continues to be subject to serious potential danger, in conformity with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines. It is therefore recommended that the Committee inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger to alert the international community of the situation, which can help secure the much- needed funding for the SEA.
It is of concern that the LAPSSET project proposes major developments in the vicinity of the lake, including an oil pipeline and a resort city. The SEA for LAPSSET should be revised to include a specific chapter on the impacts on the potentially impacted World Heritage properties, and clarify how mitigation measures are implemented and monitored. Before any specific proposals for resort cities can be considered, strong guidelines for tourism are additionally needed to protect the OUV of the properties concerned.
The progress made with the draft Management Plan for the property is appreciated, and the planned activities to strengthen the ecological monitoring of the property can address the 2012 mission recommendations, such as establishing a wildlife monitoring programme, assessing the feasibility of reintroducing Grevy’s zebra, and involving local communities. The State Party should finalize and implement the Management Plan without delay. Despite numerous Committee requests, it is regrettable that there has been no comprehensive update on the implementation of the outstanding 2012 and 2015 mission recommendations.
The EIA for the Turkana Wind Farm project satisfactorily assesses potential impacts on biotic and abiotic factors concerning the Lake, and it appears that potential impacts to the property can be mitigated, provided that all the mitigation measures proposed in the EIA are implemented.
Considering the continued critical situation, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party of Kenya to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess its current state of conservation and review the impacts of the development projects in Ethiopia and Kenya on the property and the progress made in implementing the past mission recommendations, and to develop, in consultation with the State Party, a proposed set of corrective measures and a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), for examination by the Committee at its 43rd session in 2019. The mission and the definition of the corrective measures and DSOCR should also actively seek engagement of the State Party of Ethiopia regarding those elements that rely on transboundary action to protect the integrity of the property.
Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7B.92
The World Heritage Committee,
Decision Adopted: 42 COM 8C.1
The World Heritage Committee,