The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) requires about Sh350 million to construct seawalls around key heritage sites in the Coast region.
The State Corporation that manages museums and sites needs to urgently safeguard foundations of Siyu forte (Lamu), Shimoni slave cave (Kwale) and Jumba La Mtwana (Kilifi) which are facing imminent collapse due to tidal erosion.
National Museums of Kenya (NMK) Director-General Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia has sounded the alarm that heritage sites are at risk from coastal flooding and erosion due to sea-level rise.
Dr Kibunjia said they are seeking funds from the National Treasury and partners interested in the conservation and preservation of historical monuments in rehabilitating heritage sites facing perilous future.
He said that extreme tidal waves caused by a warming planet are constantly buffeting iconic and historical sites along the shoreline leaving the heritage sites at great risk.
Dr Kibunjia observed that historical sites which are also the country’s greatest tourist attractions are under threat from coastal erosion that is chipping away at platforms that have supported them for generations.
He said many cultural and heritage sites in the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu are increasingly at risk from coastal hazards due to sea level rise occasioned by climate change.
Dr Kibunjia said climate change is the biggest potential threat to natural world heritage sites which he said number around 1,000 across the globe and that Kenya was no exception.
He said natural world heritage sites are not just iconic places with exceptional nature, they also provide benefits that contribute to human well-being and prosperity.
The NMK DG spoke to the press on Monday in Mombasa when he opened a two-week Disaster Risk Training workshop for NMK staff drawn from across the coastal region and community members living around heritage sites.
The NMK boss highlighted the losses to the tourism industry should the historical and ancient sites fall victim to a warming planet.
He said they are seeking funds from the National Treasury and partners interested in the conservation and preservation of historical monuments in rehabilitating heritage sites facing perilous future.
“We are doing everything possible to fortify the historical and cultural sites along the coastline to ensure they are not washed away by strong floods and soil erosion and that they are preserved for the sake of posterity,” he said.
He revealed that the NMK has approached the European Union (EU) which is funding blue economy projects for funds towards conservation and preservation efforts.
Dr Kibunjia at the same time said NMK is liaising with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to have the Gede Ruins in Kilifi declared as a World Heritage centre for its outstanding universal value.
“We are pushing to have the Gede ruins, a medieval Swahili-Arab coastal settlement and a historical and archaeological site near the Indian Ocean in Kilifi enlisted as a world heritage site for its historical significance,” he said.
By Mohamed Hassan