Community Involvement In The Conservation Of Lamu Old Town, World Heritage Site
This study sought to investigate community involvement in conservation of World Heritage Sites. The study had four objectives: To identify the different types of conservation activities in Lamu Old Town; To examine ways in which the community has been involved in conservation of Lamu Old Town; To analyze the challenges the community faces in conserving Lamu Old Town and finally to identify measures to be put in place to mitigate challenges related to conservation of Lamu Old Town. The objectives were guided by the community participation theory as propounded by Arnstein’s (ladder of participation) and Burns et al., (Ladder of citizen empowerment) to explain the different levels of participation and why individuals in the community must be empowered for effective partcipation. Data was collected using individual interviews, key informant interviews and focus group discussions. A total of 40 individuals were identified from the Lamu Old Town, the site hosting the World Heritage status, in Lamu County and sixteen were interviewed individually. The research also conducted two Focus Group Discussions consisiting of 10 participants from a primary school being the first group and the other group was a youth group comprising of 6 participants (With men, boys and girls) and conducted indepth interviews with 8 key informants. The information collected was purely qualitative and therefore was analysed thematically following the study objectives. The information has been mainly presented in verbatim quotes where necessary to amplify the voices of the individual respondents, informants and FGD participants. The study found out that community members were well versed with the heritage conservation programmes but they feel that the stakeholders have not actively involved them. Secondly, the community has extensive attachment to their cultural values that limit women participation in development. In terms of the examination of how the community is involved in conservation, the study reveals that the local community is occasionally invited to participate in cultural events such as cultural festivals to harness the preservation of intagible heritage. The residents however, explained that this initiative was inadequate and ineffective. The study concluded that members of the community are key in the protection of heritage since their contributions are significant in curbing existing challenges in conservation. According to the research, local communities are not being engaged actively by both the government and other agencies. Lack of empowerment was identified as the main problem hindering effective participation in the management process and lack of funds has also discouraged individual’s contribution towards heritage matters. The government together with the non-governmental organizations need to approach the conservation programmes from grassroots level and focus on community involvement at all levels of management. In addition the government should budget for heritage protection and probably develop a heritage fund for its conservation.
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