Heritage status of Lamu under threat


Shrinking fresh water levels in the wells and boreholes that serve the wider community in Lamu and which are also used to provide fresh water to the hotels and resorts, are causing concern for residents and conservationists, fearing a fall out vis-a-vis the town’s global heritage status. A number of the boreholes reportedly already only produce partly salty water, almost unusable for human consumption, and the proposed economic changes for the Lamu district are adding to the concerns.

The Kenya government has plans to turn Lamu into a second and even larger international seaport compared to Mombasa and also intends to link the shores by railroad to the hinterland with branches reaching Addis Ababa and even Juba in southern Sudan.

However, for the plans to materialize in the longer term, massive financing is needed – presently not an easy task for any major infrastructure project, and the lack of potable water will be a major restraint, because without this resource, there would hardly be a way for development on such a scale. This will, in a way, be a relief for the resort and tourism operators in the area, many of whom had joined up with protest websites and blogs to express their concern and growing anger that they, as immediate stakeholders, were not given a fair hearing and are being railroaded into a course they considered as failed from the start.