Saving Lamu

Community members protest proposed coal-fired power plant. Photo:

ELAW is collaborating with partners in Kenya to help communities challenge a massive port project and coal-fired power plant proposed for Lamu, a UN World Heritage Site and Kenya’s first Swahili settlement.

The 32-berth cargo and container port would service what would be East Africa’s first coal-fired power plant, and export oil and other natural resources from East Africa.

Dr. Mark Chernaik, ELAW Staff Scientist and Christine Nkonge from Katiba Institute

Earlier this week, ELAW Staff Scientist Mark Chernaik and Ernie Niemi, an economist from Natural Resource Economics, Inc., provided expert testimony at hearings at the Malindi High Court and the National Environmental Tribunal.

ELAW partner Waikwa Wanyoike from the Katiba Institute wrote that Mark and Ernie’s testimony had a “profound” impact on the strength and credibility of the Lamu community cases:

“For a group so marginalized by the State, the fact that they could marshal experts of your caliber makes them feel highly vindicated,” wrote Waikwa.

Ernie’s testimony on the proposed coal-fired power plant was cited in Kenya’s press:

“If it were constructed and operated, the Lamu project would diminish overall human well-being by imposing onto workers, families, businesses, and communities social costs that exceed the value of the electricity.”

ELAW Staff Attorneys and Scientists are collaborating with the Katiba Institute, Save Lamu, and Natural Justice to ensure the port project and coal plant do not devastate coastal communities, mangroves, coral reefs, and sea turtle habitat.

The proposed plant would emit extremely hazardous particulate emissions as well as nearly 9 million  metric  tons  of  carbon  dioxide  per  year.

These projects are part of an enormous infrastructure project: the Lamu Port, South Sudan, Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET).

ELAW has provided partners with critical support, including a comprehensive review of the port and coal plant’s environmental and social impact assessments (ESIAs), and analysis of the coal plant’s impact on Kenya’s ability to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement. ELAW also provided partners with resources for community workshops to help residents understand what a deepwater port looks like when completed.

Decisions about the fate of the proposed port and power plant are pending.

For more information about ELAW’s work in Lamu, contact:

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director

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