The communities of Lamu, Kenya, have recently formed a new alliance to preserve the natural biodiversity and cultural heritage of their lands and seas. The alliance, which is known as Save Lamu, is made up of over 22 community-based organizations representing the Indigenous communities of Lamu. Their primary project is to develop a Bio-cultural Community Protocol (BCP) that will provide knowledge about the Indigenous communities living in Lamu County and their traditional methods of conservation, land tenure, use of natural resources, and economic activities. This document will provide the community with a tool to seek their rights under the Kenyan Constitution as well as regional and international laws. Through various activities, including their BCP, the Save Lamu Alliance is voicing the massive concern that the communities of Lamu have in relation to a 16 billion USD port development, which has been planned in their area without their input and adequate consultation. The proposed port development is also exacerbating land grabbing that continues to evict the indigenous communities from their traditional lands on which they have lived for up to 1000 years.
In May 2011, Save Lamu wrote to the Kenyan Minister of Lands requesting that he “place a freeze on all land transactions in the county until land reforms are put in place.” The Minister has since responded to the concerns of the communities by “placing an embargo on land transactions on unalienated public or community land until there was an appropriate framework in the context of the new Constitution.” This was recently reported in Nairobi’s The Standard. Natural Justice, which has been working with the Lamu communities since August 2010, continues to support Save Lamu in its call for information and consultation from the Kenyan Government on the port development and for communities’ rights over traditional lands and resources.