1.         Lake Turkana National Parks (Kenya) (N 801bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1997

Criteria  (viii)(x)

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/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2000-2001)
Total amount approved: USD 35,300
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/801/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

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,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 39 COM 7B.4 and 40 COM 7B.80 adopted at its 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes the collaboration between the States Parties of Kenya and Ethiopia towards establishing the Joint Ethiopia-Kenya Technical Experts Panel to oversee the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to assess the cumulative impacts of development projects in the Lake Turkana Basin;
  4. Deeply regrets that the SEA, which should have been completed by 1 February 2018, has still not been commissioned;
  5. Notes with utmost concern that the preliminary hydrological data for the Gibe III dam show that the seasonal fluctuation patterns of Lake Turkana have already been heavily disrupted, and urges the States Parties of Kenya and Ethiopia to undertake the long- overdue SEA without further delay in order to assess the cumulative impacts of the multiple developments in the Lake Turkana Basin on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the affected properties, and to identify urgently needed mitigation measures;
  6. Also notes with utmost concern that the Kuraz Sugar Development Project is operational, and also urges the State Party of Ethiopia to halt all activities in relation to the project until an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), including a comprehensive assessment of potential downstream impacts on the OUV of the property, has been completed, and reviewed by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  7. In light of the transpiring impacts on water flow and the lake ecosystem, and continuation of works on the Gibe III dam and the Kuraz project in Ethiopia, without respecting the Committee’s request to undertake the necessary impact assessments prior to the works, including an SEA and implementation of mitigation measures, considers that the property’s OUV is increasingly subject to potential danger in conformity with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;
  8. Notes with concern that the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor Project may have potential impacts on the property’s OUV, and requests the State Party of Kenya to conduct Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Studies on specific projects of the LAPSSET clarifying how mitigation measures are implemented and monitored;
  9. Appreciates the progress made with the draft Management Plan 2018-2028 for the property, which includes a wildlife monitoring programme, feasibility assessment for the reintroduction of Grevy’s zebra and the involvement of local communities to address livestock grazing inside the property, and also requests the State Party of Kenya to finalize and implement the Management Plan without delay;
  10. Decides to inscribe Lake Turkana National Parks (Kenya) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  11. Also regrets that a comprehensive update on the implementation of the outstanding 2012 and 2015 mission recommendations has not been provided, and reiterates its request to the States Parties of Kenya and Ethiopia to provide a consolidated response as well as an update on the current status of the impounding of the Gibe III reservoir, and any mitigation measures being implemented;
  12. Further requests the State Party of Kenya to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess the property’s state of conservation, and review the impacts of the development projects in Ethiopia and Kenya on the property and the progress made to implement the past mission recommendations, and to develop, in consultation with the States Parties of Kenya and Ethiopia, 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;
  13. Requests furthermore the State Party of Kenya to ensure that all the mitigation measures proposed in the EIA for the Turkana Wind Farm project are implemented, and to provide a report on progress made to mitigate impacts on the property;
  14. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, 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 43rd session in 2019.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 8C.1

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List (WHC/18/42.COM/7B, WHC/18/42.COM/7B.Add and WHC/18/42.COM/7B.Add.2) and the proposals for inscription of properties on the World Heritage List (WHC/18/42.COM/8B and WHC/18/42.COM/8B.Add),
  2. Decides to inscribe the following property on the List of World Heritage in Danger: