Kenya: Museums Alert Over Lamu Land Allocations
29 September 2009
Nairobi — The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) is compiling a list of people allocated land in a water catchment area in Lamu which will soon be made public.
Director general Omar Farah has said that Lamu Island is at risk of losing the only source of fresh water if allocations in the 982-hectare land at Shella are not nullified.
“The sand dunes are the only membrane between sea water and fresh water and they should be conserved. Should any development be allowed at the dunes Lamu will not have fresh water in less than ten years,” he said.
The NMK boss said National Heritage minister William Ole Ntimama is expected to make an announcement of the illegal allocations once the process of identifying the beneficiaries was completed.
“We are currently conducting a search and the problem of illegal allocations at Shella is even more serious than the much publicized Mau forest because the entire 982 hectares has been dished out. After the allocations are nullified, we want Shella gazetted as a catchment area so that it can be protected,” he added.
He was speaking at a seminar for directors of heritage in Africa at the Whitesands Beach hotel.
Since the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) named Lamu as a world heritage site in 2001, there has been increased interest in the island internationally.
Concerning the threat of Lamu as a heritage site by the construction of the second port, Mr Farah said NMK had been assured that there would be no construction within the island.
“But again there will be an influx of people as a result of construction of the port including those dealing with related businesses such as clearing and forwarding all of who will be craving for limited facilities within the island which should be put into consideration,” he said.
The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) director general Mounir Bouchenaki said the board is set to meet early next year to discuss and come up with suggestions of how the project will be implemented without threatening the heritage site.
“We are not saying that once an area has been gazetted as a heritage site there should be a freeze on development but there should be a way of ensuring that projects do not interfere with heritage,” said Mr Bouchenaki.
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