The Kenya Coast poses a development enigma in more than one way. Historically it was part of the Indian Ocean world and its economy. With the coming of colonial rule and later nationhood, the political and economic allegiances inevitably changed. Economic and political power shifted to the centre of Kenya.
The coastal region is not richly endowed in natural resources but it has economic lynchpins in the port of Mombasa which serves Kenya and other East African countries, the tourism industry which has great potential and which flourished in previous decades but has recently shown a steep decline, and agriculture which so far serves mainly as a means of subsistence for large parts of the local population. Despite this potential the region finds itself in a marginal position.
This book traces the causes behind this situation and analyses it from different angles - political, economical and social. Authors from very different disciplines review resources, economy, people and history as well as the development potential and existing development limitations. The latter consist not only of infrastructural and human constraints but also of fragile coastal ecosystems, such as coral reefs, beaches and mangrove forests, that easily suffer from environmental degradation.
This handbook, with a preface by Ali A. Mazrui, is an indispensable tool for anyone with a professional interest in the East African Coast. The book contains 26 chapters divided over 6 sections: Introduction, General background, People and history, Economic resources, Human resources, and Development issues. The book also contains a large bibliography and statistical information.
Jan Hoorweg and Dick Foeken are senior researchers at the African Studies Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands.
R. A. Obudho is professor of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Nairobi, Kenya.