NEMA Kenya steps up protection of Lamu


The recent public outcry over encroachment into protected areas in Lamu and attempts by the council to sell or lease off key adjacent public land has been re-enforced by an order from NEMA declaring that all waterside developments in Lamu as well as encroachment into wetland and riparian areas around the ancient town must stop immediately and those concerned pack up and leave. Lamu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and any developments within the municipality and surrounds must meet most stringent standards of planning and approval, in order to preserve Lamu and its rich history for future generations. The NEMA order now gives added protection to about 1.000 hectares of land including most of the famous sand dunes where no construction can now take place.

However, ‘investors’ have already vowed to take matters to court with one company claiming that they have fulfilled all legal requirement to commence major construction, and it also seems that opinion about some of the planned projects is split even amongst the residents of Lamu.

It is also noteworthy that the planned second major sea port and railway link to Lamu remain under environmental and social scrutiny too and here in particular NEMA and other governmental and non-governmental organizations will have to meet their litmus test over best international practice and clear enforceable mitigation measure for the long term in order to protect this unique ecosystem and the biodiversity found around Lamu for future generations.