The Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor is a multibillion dollar project that will link Lamu (Kenya) to Juba (South Sudan) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). The project will consist of a standard gauge railway line, a mega port, a super highway, a regional international airport, an ultra-modern tourist resort, an oil pipeline, and a fibre-optic cable once complete. The LAPSSET Corridor is aimed at stimulating economies along Northern Kenya as well as ease movement of goods to and from Southern Sudan and Ethiopia. There is high expectation that this presents great potential for growth in development, local and international trade between Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
Since initiation, the project has been riddled with minimal access to information and poor stakeholder participation in its decision making processes. To-date, there is no completed Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) on the corridor, nor environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the related projects. This is a great oversight on the government’s part considering that the region where the LAPSSET project cuts through is inhabited by marginalized indigenous communities who mostly rely on their natural livelihoods including: the pastoralist Turkana, Orma, Gabbra, Somali, and Samburu; the Aweer, Sanye and Endorois hunter gatherers and Bajun fishermen and farmers.
The region along the corridor is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and biodiversity such that two UNESCO World Heritage Sites fall within the region: Lake Turkana, and Lamu town. While the Kenya government has recently made attempts to inform stakeholders about the project and initiate environmental studies, the poor transparency and participation in the processes begs the need for an independent body to represent and lobby for the interests of the indigenous communities along the corridor.
HBS in collaboration with Friends of Lake Turkana (FoLT), a grassroots organization that foster social, economic and environmental justice in the greater Turkana Basin through; the protection and conservation of Lake Turkana, the Turkana Basin and its environment engage in this project to provide participants with the opportunity to learn more about the LAPSSET and its opportunities and challenges and inclusivity of community participation in its development.
Specifically the project aims to;
- Discuss opportunities and challenges with the stakeholders in the development of LAPSSET;
- Equip stakeholders in the Northern region of LAPSSET with the requisite knowledge and skills to make positive contribution in the dialogues around responsible infrastructural development;
- Build a strong network towards continued dialogues on the infrastructural development through the LAPSSET corridor;
- To engage and interact with stakeholders as a way of buying their ownership of the expected output; and
- To identify the key issues contributing to the “concerns” over LAPSSET.