Nairobi 4 March 2015 - UN-Habitat last week hosted a consultative meeting in Gigiri with officials from Lamu County Government. The aim of the meeting was to explore possible areas of collaboration to support the county government in their pursuit to improve access to urban basic service within Lamu town. Lamu County was founded in 1370, and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site listed in 2001, and a Biosphere Reserve in 1980.

It’s one of the oldest towns and best-preserved Swahili settlements in East Africa, retaining its traditional functions. Despite its richness in culture, not much has changed as the infrastructure has remained the same despite rapid population increases. The population of Lamu town is projected to increase tenfold to 1 million in the next five years, due to the anticipated development activities which include the on-going construction of a modern port and related infrastructure under the Lamu Port Southern Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Project. This is expected to result in a serious strain on the already inadequate service provision to the county residents.

The question is how prepared is the Lamu County in relation to this development and the anticipated pressure it will exert on the essential amenities? “We cannot work in isolation to achieve our goals and targets as a county, this search for partnership with other key stakeholders is crucial” said Mrs. Amina Rashid the executive committee member for land, physical planning, infrastructure, urban development, water and natural resources.

Fact Finding Mission to Lamu

UN-Habitat representative Mr. Robert Goodwin emphasized that “urban basic services such as water, sanitation and waste management are critical to development and will be given even more priority as we transition to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which includes a proposed goal to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. Having held consultative discussions with Lamu County officials, UN-Habitat will be fielding a fact finding mission to Lamu.

The mission will seek to identify gaps, needs, short and long term potential interventions to form the basis for partnership with the county government to collectively find lasting solutions to the current problems. Mr. Siyat Osman, Lamu County Government Secretary received the call for a fact finding mission with gratitude “we are happy that UN-Habitat agreed to have audience with the Lamu County Government officials, through our discussions l feel like we have solved part of Lamu challenges. We are looking forward to facilitate and do all it takes for the Fact finding mission to be successful. We hope that this partnership will go a long way to ensure Lamu County improves the access to water and sanitation services to the local population”.