Lamu Port and Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor

12 January 2017

WWF-SIGHT has supported the WWF Coastal East Africa Initiative in gathering and providing spatial information for the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor. LAPPSET or Lamu corridor is a transport and infrastructure project in Kenya that will be the country’s second transport corridor. Kenya’s other transport corridor is the Mombasa – Uganda transport corridor that passes through Nairobi and much of the Northern Rift. An area of focus for WWF is the Lamu delta, which provides a range of vital goods and services but could be under serious threat by the multi-million dollar Port and associated infrastructure development in particular, if poorly executed.

Interactive map of the Lamu Port, South Sudan and Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) project (Click on top left of the map for more info)

Lamu’s environmental assets
Lamu delta provide a range of vital goods and services that underpin the county’s economy and the well-being of its people (e.g. by providing water, fuel, food and raw materials; supporting farming, fishing, grazing, tourism and recreation; absorbing waste and carbon, and protecting people from hazards such as drought, flooding and storms). Lamu’s natural environment also holds important cultural and spiritual values for many communities. However, many of these assets are already in decline due to human impacts, and the costs of this are already being felt. Further losses would undermine the ability of natural systems to sustain economic productivity and basic human needs, posing profound implications for Lamu’s future prosperity.

Lamu Delta Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)
WWF undertook a Pilot Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Tana Delta and Lamu Archipelago in 2010/2011 ito encourage local communities, Government Ministries and District offices and NGO staff and volunteers to work together in providing advice to key decision-makers in Government, Industry, Finance and International Development. The aim of the SEA was ‘to improve the coordination and implementation of existing land use policies, to encourage the production of better land use and management plans and to ensure that new development in the Tana River Delta and Lamu Archipelago achieves the highest possible standards of sustainability in accordance with Kenya’s New Constitution’. The devolution process in Kenya has changed the power structures and administrative channels that this project will be implemented through, however planning and implementation does not seem to have taken this on board

Development of Lamu County Spatial Plan (CSP)
WWF-Kenya and WWF-UK have produced a brief 2016 to help inform the development of Lamu, particularly related to how it considers natural capital issues. The brief can be downloaded from this page and highlights why it is important to take natural capital into account within the County Spatial Plan (CSP), what the most important natural assets are in Lamu, in terms of the benefits they provide to the county’s economy, businesses and people, and what practical measures could be taken forward in the CSP, to protect and enhance critical natural assets in the most cost-effective way.

What are the potential future implications of development in Lamu?
Proposed large-scale developments in Lamu, including the LAPSSET project and a planned coal plant, would have significant long-term deleterious effects on Lamu’s natural assets. The potential impacts of LAPSSET include:

1) Direct loss of natural assets in areas cleared for the construction of project components, including the proposed new port, roads, railway, airport, resort town, oil refinery, fishing port, and new urban and industrial areas.

2) Direct loss of natural assets over a larger area due to the wider development that LAPSSET would attract and/or require, such as new settlements, industries and infrastructure.

3) Indirect impacts due to increased pollution and extraction of water, food, fuel and raw materials by a much larger population. Geographical Information System (GIS) analysis suggests that over 150,000 ha of intact habitats (mainly mangroves, forests, coral reefs and seagrass beds) could be lost within these primary and secondary impact areas. The possible further loss of over 9,400 ha mangroves would represent a 38 % in Lamu’s total stock. Water resources, fishing areas and wildlife would also be significantly affected.

Video on Lamu’s assets and ecosystem services (by WWF)

Short documentary about Lamu (Kenya)

WWF-Sight