A call to avert development induced poverty as is a common consequence of mammoth development projects that displace people and alter their way lives.

During the period between March, 2011 and April, 2014, the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) set out on a series of fact finding missions to Lamu spanning from . This was spurred by concerns voiced throughout KHRC’s collaboration with various community based organizations in Lamu and had the sole purpose of interrogating the validity of community fears in regard to the proposed Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor Project.

Lamu hosts indigenous peoples who have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development. In recognition of the fact that indigenous communities are predisposed to human rights violations; the fact that land rights have historically been a thorny subject even for dominant ethnic groups along Kenya’s Coast; and the fact that Lamu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site on which the Aweer and fisher folk are solely dependent for their livelihood, this Position Paper focuses on the land rights, economic, social and cultural rights of the people resident in Lamu prior to the LAPSSET Project and in particular the indigenous Aweer and fisher folk community. It raises concerns that the manner in which the LAPSSET Project is being administered will relegate host communities further into the periphery of poverty and invisibility and offers recommendations on how to urgently mitigate against this adverse yet imminent outcome.

The KHRC launched the  Forgotten In The Scramble And Petition of Lamu: The Case of the Aweer and the Fisher-folk on the 18th of June, 2014 at the Manda Island in Lamu.

The findings of this audit raise a red flag that if the LAPSSET Project proceeds in the same manner as it is being currently administered, it is unlikely to result in poverty reduction and improved livelihoods for the people that inhabited Lamu before the Project’s onset.  KHRC intends that the recommendations of this Position Paper will be applied towards ensuring that the LAPSSET Project results in inclusive growth of the Lamu community and sustainable development. To this end, the Position Paper offers recommendations on how various stakeholders may engage towards achieving the state of respect for human rights and environmental justice in implementing colossal development projects.

For these reasons the Position Paper:

  1. Recommends that the development of the oil and industrial infrastructure is not executed in a manner that displaces existing and potential livelihoods. On the contrary, it should complement, even boost local capacities for production. It further exhorts government to support host communities towards adapting to new developments without being compelled to abandon old trades. They should, in addition, be enabled to compete effectively in emerging economic activities;
  2. Recommends that historical economic marginalization of communities and persons should be addressed within its immediate and appropriate context rather than through blanket “development projects” whose impact might be to aggravate the incidence of marginalization;
  3. Argues for the protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous communities in light of pressure to modernize and of their continued vulnerabilities;
  4. Argues for a comprehensive Equality and Non-Discrimination policy which also anchors questions of affirmative action, for the benefit of marginalized communities, groups and persons. It, thus, calls for the establishment of equalization models and benefits-sharing standards that seek to rebalance age-old disparities;
  5. Tests the principle of “Public Participation” with regard to the Constitutional thresholds of public involvement in government decision-making as part of the broader end of good governance and accountability. It is suggested that a minimum standard for public engagement in questions that directly affect the well-being of communities be established;
  6. Echoes calls for a well-managed, yet, timely transition into the newly established land tenure systems and structures of accountability as well as the continued regulation of the system thereafter;
  7. Argues for the expansion of grievance redress mechanisms beyond those that are presently utilized by communities, for the resolution of cases of violation of economic, social and cultural rights by State, corporate entities and development partners alike. It suggests viable avenues of grievance redress, beyond the conventional structures of accountability; and
  8. Urges the respect for human rights by the State, corporate entities and citizens alike. As such, it suggests the establishment of, among others, protective legal frameworks and the enforcement of law and policies to protect vulnerable persons and communities from the adverse effects of large scale development projects.

Please click here to download the report.