State of Conservation
Lamu Old Town
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
- Air transport infrastructure
- Land conversion
- Management systems/ management plan
- Marine transport infrastructure
- Non-renewable energy facilities
- Solid waste
- Other Threats:
Deterioration of dwellings
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Management systems/ management and conservation plan
- Clarification of boundaries and buffer zone
- Pressure from urban development
- Marine transport infrastructure
- Air transport infrastructure
- Encroachment of the archaeological sites
- Housing/ Deterioration of dwellings
- Solid waste
- Non-renewable energy facilities (Coal Power plant)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2021
Total amount provided: for a Heritage Impact Assessment in 2014: USD 85,000: Netherlands Funds-in-Trust; for a workshop on Historic Urban Landscapes in 2011: USD 22,943: Flanders Funds-in-Trust
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 4
Total amount approved : 61,436 USD
|2021||Strengthening governance and management structures at ... (Approved)||29,660 USD|
|2010||Listed Lamu Old Town. Action plans scheme project and ... (Approved)||8,900 USD|
|2004||Rehabilitation of Lamu waterfront (raising of sea wall ... (Approved)||6,952 USD|
|2000||Lamu: Preparation of a nomination file (Approved)||15,924 USD|
Missions to the property until 2021**
March 2004: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive 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; January 2018: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Advisory mission (Nairobi) on LAPSSET project; December 2019: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021
A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property from 29 November to 5 December 2019 (mission report available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1055/documents/). Subsequently, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report on 3 February 2020, which is also available at the above-mentioned address, and responds in detail to Decision 43 COM 7B.107, as follows:
- The State Party reported that work is ongoing on an assessment of the condition of the built fabric with collaboration of the county government and the site management;
- The State Party process of delineating the boundaries of the property and an enlarged buffer zone is still in progress;
- Development of the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) project is ongoing. Other projects such as the metropolis and resort city, oil pipeline, international airport, and railways have not yet been started. The State Party notes that detailed plans are not completed for many of the projects within the larger LAPSSET development. The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) is now a member of the technical committee for the LAPSSET Master Plan;
- In regard to Environmental and Heritage Impact Assessments (EIAs/HIAs), the government is undertaking a review and revision of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and the HIA for the first 3 berths has been submitted to the consultant as part of this revision process;
- The project for the coal power plant has been put on hold as a result of the 2019 National Environment Tribunal decision;
- The revision of the management plan is ongoing with input from different stakeholders including government agencies and civil society.
The State Party further submitted three inception reports for planning projects being undertaken under the World Bank funded Kenia Urban Services Project (KUSP). The projects are:
- Solid Waste Policy for Lamu Municipality;
- Lamu Municipality Integrated Development Plan;
- Lamu Island Integrated Urban Development Plan (2020–2035).
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021
The poor state of conservation of the property and lack of building controls observed by the mission, which pose a threat to its integrity and authenticity, remains of significant concern.
The clarification of the boundaries and the extension of the buffer zone is also of the utmost urgency. As requested repeatedly, the buffer zone should at the very least incorporate all of Lamu Island and a significant part of Manda Island, as well as the relevant mangrove belts. However, while the State Party reports that the delineation of the boundaries and the enlarged buffer zone is still in process, no indication is given as to when the works will be completed. While recognizing the political difficulties of putting a buffer zone in place, it remains of utmost priority. The KUSP projects’ inception reports were reviewed by ICOMOS, which considered that the projects cannot achieve their goals before the property and buffer zone boundaries have been clarified. Furthermore, the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property should be thoroughly taking into account in the conceptualization of the three KUSP projects.
The reported progress made in revising the Management Plan to incorporate aspects of the LAPSSET project is also noted. This should be completed along with the revision of the buffer zone to ensure a functional management system. Addressing water security and sanitation remains equally urgent.
The mission noted considerable advancement on the construction of the three berths of the new LAPSSET harbor, the highway construction, and the headquarters of the LAPSSET Authority.
Greater awareness of the potential threats of LAPSSET to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property needs to be established at the political and civil society levels. The LAPSSET SEA should take into account the individual and potential cumulative impacts of the project on the OUV of the property, as well as on Lake Turkana World Heritage property, as requested by the Committee in 2019 (Decision 43 COM 7B.107). The SEA should be completed urgently and submitted for review, before any of the other components of the LAPSSET project are initiated. Regarding the requested Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the LAPSSET Authority and the NMK, the State Party makes no mention of its completion, but it must be stressed that finalising this MoU would be a stronger indication that LAPSSET intends to involve the NMK in any decisions of the project that may affect heritage along the corridor.
The Committee may wish to recommend that the State Party send a High-Level governmental delegation, including representatives of the Ministry of Sport, Culture and Heritage and the National Museums of Kenya, to the property to assess the range and urgency of the challenges faced in the maintenance of its OUV and request that the State Party establish a Heritage Task Team, composed of relevant government agencies from both the national and local levels with the support and involvement of civil society, in order to develop proper responses. To improve engagement and partnership with civil society, the creation of a Lamu Island stakeholders and community forum, which can also work closely with the LAPSSET project, is recommended.
The State Party and LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority should establish a corporate social responsibility programme to ensure sufficient funding for conservation and heritage related activities. The County Government may wish to participate to ensure that cultural and heritage related work is adequately funded.
The hold on the Coal Plant project is welcome, as the mission recommended that the proposed coal plant would likely have negative impacts on the OUV of the property as well as the larger environment around Lamu. The State Party should explore alternatives to the plant and ensure that any further development of energy generation infrastructure undergo independent EIAs and HIAs.
While no negative impacts of the Manda airport upgrade project were found by the mission team, it is noted that an HIA was requested before work was implemented. It is hoped that in the future, the impact of such projects on the OUV of the property will be assessed through independent HIAs before irreversible decisions are made and projects are implemented.
As a final consideration, given the continuing concern regarding ascertained and potential threats to the OUV of the property, it is noted that the 2019 mission recommended that the State Party consider requesting the World Heritage Committee to include Lamu Old Town on the List of World Heritage in Danger as a means to active international support. The State Party in discussions requested more time to implement the mission recommendations. Given the seriousness of the issues, the Committee should consider requesting the State Party to invite a Reactive Monitoring mission in the first half of 2023 to examine implementation of the recommendations and the state of conservation of the property.
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.6
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B.Add,
- Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.45, and 43 COM 7B.107, adopted at its 42nd (Manama, 2018), and 43rd (Baku, 2019) sessions respectively,
- Expresses its thanks to the State Party for organizing a Reactive Monitoring mission to the property in November/December 2019, considering the security concerns and requests that the State Party implement the recommendations of the mission;
- Underlines the utmost urgency of clarifying the boundaries of the property and putting in place an enlarged buffer zone to include all of Lamu Island, parts of Manda Island, and relevant mangroves belts in the area, as requested numerous times in the past, and also requests that an updated clearly delineated map of the property and its enlarged buffer zone be submitted to the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies for comment prior to formally submitting it to the World Heritage Committee as a minor boundary modification in line with Paragraph 164 of the Operational Guidelines;
- Expresses its concern about the overall state of conservation of buildings within the property, and further requests the State Party to complete the survey of the building stock and strengthen enforcement of building controls to halt the deterioration and use of inappropriate materials;
- Regrets that a revised Management Plan which takes into account the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) project has not yet been completed and urges the State Party to complete it as soon as possible and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
- Recognizes that the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) has been included in the technical committee for the LAPSSET Master Plan, but also urges the State Party to ensure that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the NMK and the LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority is completed to ensure that the NMK has a role in decisions, that may affect heritage along the corridor, and in particular the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of relevant World Heritage properties, including Lamu Old Town;
- Takes note of the need for greater awareness of the potential threats of the LAPSSET project on the OUV of the property at both the political and civil society levels, and requests furthermore the State Party to:
- Send a High-Level governmental delegation, including representatives of the Ministry of Sport, Culture and Heritage and the National Museums of Kenya, to the property to assess the range of challenges and the urgency of finding solutions to ensure the safeguarding of the OUV of the property,
- Establish a Heritage Task Team made of relevant government agencies at the national and local levels with the support and involvement of civil society in order to develop appropriate responses to the many development issues that may affect the OUV of the property,
- Create a stakeholder and community forum for Lamu Island, which can also work closely with the LAPSSET project,
- Set up a core corporate social responsibility programme in collaboration with the LAPSSET Corridor Development Authority and the County Government to ensure that sufficient funds are available for conservation at the property and heritage related projects;
- Requests moreover the State Party to
- Complete, as soon as possible, the work on the revision of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the LAPSSET project, taking into account both individual and cumulative impacts that the project and all of its sub-projects may have on the OUV of the property, as well as on Lake Turkana World Heritage property, and that no further components of LAPSSET be implemented before the SEA is completed and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
- Provide to the World Heritage Centre, for each sub-project of LAPSSET (resort city, international airport, etc.), full information about the projects and their plans along with the necessary Environmental and Heritage Impact Assessments (EIAs/HIAs), for review by the Advisory Bodies before any irreversible decisions are taken about their implementation;
- Notes that the work on the Lamu Coal Plant is on hold, and requests as well that alternative solutions be proposed to meet the electricity needs of the region, and that any developments in this regard undergo thorough independent EIAs/HIAs to ensure that there are no negative impacts on the OUV of the property;
- Requests in addition the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission to the property in the first half of 2023 to review the progress made on the recommendations of the 2019 mission and the Decisions of the World Heritage Committee, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session in 2023;
- Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, a progress report, and by 1 December 2022, 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 46th session in 2023.
Initialy proposed for examination in 2020
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”).