Lamu is stepping into a new era of large-scale development and infrastructure investment, particularly through the multi-million dollar Lamu Port, South Sudan and Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) project. Whilst these developments could generate substantial economic and social benefits, they also pose significant environmental risks. In particular, if poorly executed, they could lead to significant and, in some cases, irreversible damage to the county’s most important natural assets, including forests, grasslands, mangroves, water sources, beaches, sea grass beds, coral reefs and fishing areas.
WWF-Kenya has sought to offer its contribution towards the ongoing Lamu County Spatial Plan making process, highlighting the need to substantively determine the coastal county’s natural capital, its status especially for those resources that are on a decline and the resources’ contribution to to the county’s economy, businesses and people. A top priority is to ensure that future development is planned so that it does not lead to further loss of natural capital and, ideally should lead to a net gain.
This is part of WWF-Kenya’s support to the county as per the memorandum of understanding it entered into with Lamu County government last year during the handing over ceremony of the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) lab equipment and a pledge to support the programme up to a tune of Ksh. 21,000, 000.
WWF-Kenya is proposing among others the following inclusions into the Lamu County Spatial Plan:
- Careful location and design of development zones’ routes and sites across the county to avoid important assets.
- Provision of full protection (as no go areas) for the Dodori and Lungi Forest Reserves
- Limiting the most significant impacts of LAPSSET to within a small and as tightly controlled an area as possible.
Article by Alex Kubasu/WWF-Kenya