Managing the social and environmental impact of great public works for the development of the East African coastal zone


How to properly manage the social and environmental impact of great public works on the coastal zone of East Africa?


The East African coastal region is experiencing fast economic growth and developments fuelled by a surge of foreign investments and development aid. Most of the resources are devolved to major public infrastructure projects managed by private companies through Public Private Partnership agreements and financed by major international institutions. Some of these investments are causing political and social unrest in the region, revealing the weaknesses of a system characterised by lack of homogeneity in the interpretation and application of national and international rules. A major challenge for the region will be to understand how to implement an effective Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM).


First, as the area presents development opportunity, it is imperative to balance economic interests with the protection of its ecosystem and cultural heritage. Second, coastal zones are morphologically unique for their biodiversity and resources and many scholars point out the need for deeper research focused on their effective management. Third, this region is under ecological pressure caused by climate change and population growth, and, therefore, not only the development of the area must be sustainable, but also resilient and socially inclusive.


All those issues harden greatly the task of managing the environmental and social impact of great public works needed for development of the area. In fact, the coastal developments in East African call into play various branches of law at different levels: from human rights and environmental law to procurement law and bilateral investment treaties, from local administrative procedures to general principles of international environmental law. There are also different types of action related to this field, some to be done ex-ante, in prevention of eventual damages (e.g.. EIA) and some to be done ex post, in case of conflict and damage to the environment (e.g.. environmental restoration).


Against this background, this project proposes a legal recollection, an on the ground data verification and a practical outcome.


Theoretical recollection focused on environmental and social management tools in integrated coastal zone management.

This will be a recollection of the general principles and tools applicable to this sector: prevention and conflict management.


  • Legal framework of environmental and social management of great public infrastructure in the selected area, in order to determine the legal prerequisites for great public work.

For case that will be analysed on site, a legal recollection of the norms and regulations concerning environmental and social impact will be necessary.


– On-site data collection. Two countries have been chosen as case studies, Tanzania and Mozambique, where international institutions have financed important pipeline infrastructure projects. The national and international legal framework applicable in these countries will be investigated in order to identify practical tools for the application of generally recognised principles of sustainable procurement.

  • To reach this aim, interviews and surveys will be conducted in order to assess the effectiveness of the measures in place, the compliance level and the social satisfaction.


  • In the light of the analysed above, an elaboration of practical toolkit for end-users and practitioners to allow for a better management of the environmental and social impact of great public works.

Institution: University of Nottingham

Supervisor: Anna Maria La Chimia

Area of study: Law