Discussion has begun on how best to improve the economic, social and environmental outcomes of the recently launched Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor to make it a success and support the delivery of Vision 2030.
A meeting of interested stakeholders convened to discuss the LAPSSET corridor: preliminary analysis of risks and opportunities noted that “ …ninety percent of the LAPSSET corridor goes through arid and semi-arid lands, which are important areas for livestock production, tourism, biodiversity conservation, and cultural heritage. However, the feasibility study doesn’t give the full impact of the LAPSSET corridor on livestock and wildlife mobility or on water and pasture competition despite the fact that these issues already trigger deadly clashes between various communities….”
Due to a focus on a single component of Vision 2030, the LAPSSET corridor is currently undermining other objectives of Vision 2030. For example, it lays emphasize in promoting tourism in Kenya therefore it requires the improvement of tourism infrastructure and demands the securing of migratory corridors., The LAPSSET corridor traverses wildlife corridors which Vision 2030 is striving to achieve. It should attempt to balance the infrastructural objectives and tourism growth while minimizing impact on biodiversity. Such a multi-faceted approach to increasing Kenya’s economic growth ideally starts with an informed debate on the economic, social and environmental risks and opportunities related to the LAPSSET.
The LAPSSET corridor is one of the flagship projects of Kenya’s Vision 2030 whose objectives are “to improve access and connectivity between Kenya, Southern Sudan and Ethiopia as well as to stimulate economic activity in the Northern and Eastern parts of Kenya”.
The new Constitution of Kenya provides the legal framework for ensuring informed and participatory decision-making around development infrastructure like the LAPSSET corridor. In addition, Kenya has the data and expertise to inform discussions about the LAPSSET with its regular economic survey conducted by Kenya Bureau of Statistics or the thirty (30) years of information on region gathered by the Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing (DRSRS).
So far, however, the lack of meaningful stakeholder engagement has already resulted in court actions and the feasibility study hasn’t demonstrated an understanding of the context in which the LAPSSET is taking place.
The corridor presents a unique opportunity for the Northern and Eastern parts of Kenya to lay the ground for sustainable development. It will rectify a lack of accessibility to local, regional and international markets and will bring much needed investment in these regions. To be successful in the long-term, however, a project of such magnitude requires relevant information to be made available and debated by the various stakeholders.
The meeting was attended by stakeholder organisations involved in promoting rangeland livelihoods and conservation, among others the Kenya Rangeland Coalition, the International Livestock Research Institute and the East African Wildlife Society. These organisations are looking forward to collaborating with others and the project developers to realize the potential of the LAPSSET corridor.