Protecting the Past, Preserving the Future: Blended Finance and the Protection of Marine Cultural Heritage in Lamu Port (Kenya) and Tolagnaro (Madagascar)
2008, the Kenyan Government launched Kenya Vision 2030, a development strategy aimed at transforming Kenya into an industrialising middle-income nation by 2030. This strategy includes a 32-Berth port in Lamu, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Construction of the first three berths commenced in 2014 and faced significant opposition from local communities regarding the interference with their traditional fishing waters and in turn their livelihood and traditional cultural practices. Furthermore, the construction was causing significant harm to the local environment and MCH. Their claims were upheld by the Kenyan High Court in 2018 resulting in the Kenyan Government being ordered to pay compensation to local residents. However, twenty-nine berths of the project remain to be built. Continued protection of local communities and the MCH on which they rely must remain a priority. The Tolagnaro fishing community in the Anosy region of Madagascar shares, in many ways, the fate of the Lamu community. Tolagnaro’s intangible MCH, the community’s ancestral tombs, customary knowledge and traditional fishing and weaving practices are jeopardised by a large QMM mining project, which has caused mass evictions, severe biodiversity degradation of the marine environment and coastal forest, and unsustainable livelihood shifts. QMM’s biodiversity offsetting plan has further exacerbated impact on MCH and local communities. Both infrastructure projects partially rely on development funds, used to attract further private sector investment. This private-public partnership (PPP) financing model raises a number of unanswered legal question.