Kenya conservation news – Reprieve for Lamu’s heritage?


The ancient town of Lamu is presently suffering a worsening water crisis, affecting sections of the population but also businesses like restaurants and hotels. Wells which in the past supplied fresh water, have been overexploited due to the rising population numbers and have gone ‘salty’, making them unfit for future use until natural rehabilitation has taken its course.

A leading conservationists involved in the struggle to keep the historical heritage of Lamu and its environs intact and who was involved in a more recent saga to rescue mangrove forests and wetlands from developers, had this to say: ‘I think this proves an important point we have made time and again. Lamu as it is now finds it difficult to sustain the number of people living there. Construction of a huge port and other infrastructure requires a lot more people and there is simply not enough water available for more. Constructions uses even more water, running a port would require a lot more water. Right now there is not enough for Lamu residents. How will thousands of extra workers find water. The plans of government are not thought through, they have forgotten that there are limited resources in Lamu and mega projects like a harbour and all the added buildings and roads and infrastructure cannot be sustained if there is no water. We are sad about thousands of people struggling daily to find water to cook and other domestic uses but we are also happy that this happens before thousands more are sent here to start building. Even building contractors will now see that when they put in bids and tenders, they have a big problem here. They might under the circumstances not be able to actually work here’.

Adds this correspondent that desalination is of course an alternative, albeit an expensive one, but unless and until people already living in and around Lamu have enough water, there is not much of a chance to actually break ground and start the planned mega projects any time soon.

Reprieve for Lamu, for now.

2 Responses

  1. I’m sure they will build a water pipe, perhaps from Tana River. e.g. Mombasa’s water comes from Mzima springs in the Tsavo Park (sourced from Mt. Kilimanjaro), almost 150KM away

  2. They might well try that, BUT, the Tana is already suffering of dry season and drought impact and with increase commercial farming along the lower end of the river much of the remaining water will be taken for irrigation – so what will be left for Lamu.
    Also remember that the Mzima Springs pipeline can no longer serve the coast, which has a 40+ percent fresh water shortfall already.
    Grim prospects which might well seriously impact on the planned mega projects, leave alone the people of Lamu of course.