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Lamu Old Town Faces Mounting Pressures Under Climate Change and Large-Scale Infrastructure Development


The World Heritage Committee is well aware of the threats to Lamu Old Town posed by the Lamu Port South Sudan—Ethiopia Transportation Corridor (LAPSSET) large-scale infrastructure development project. As early as 2011, it expressed concern about the construction of the port component of LAPSSET, arguing that “the port project could be considered a mega-project” and that it was likely to cause severe ecological and social impacts that would threaten world heritage in Lamu. Ten years later, with the first three of 32 planned berths of the port now complete, those predictions have already come true.

Save Lamu has included a discussion of the damaging effects of LAPSSET in the World Heritage Watch Report 2020,2 and the situation has not improved since the publication of that analysis. Today, the combined impacts of LAPSSET and climate change, along with the State Party’s glaring neglect of its commitments under the World Heritage Convention, make including Lamu Old Town on the list of World Heritage in danger an urgent priority. These compounding threats are made even more pressing by the intimate relationship between Lamu’s cultural heritage and the integrity of its natural ecosystems.

Athman, M., & Galligan, B. P. (2022). Lamu Old Town faces mounting pressures under climate change and large-scale infrastructure development. In S. Doempke, N. Bolomey, R. M. Ebrahimi Saba, M. F. Oliveira, J. P. de Oliveira Costa, & S. Wagh (Eds.), World Heritage Watch Report 2022 (pp. 209–212). World Heritage Watch. https://world-heritage-watch.org/content/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/2022-Report-WHW-final.pdf

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