Economic development and wellbeing or mere social costs? : an analysis of the justification of Lamu Port construction and its impacts on local fishing communities

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202101201299
Title: Economic development and wellbeing or mere social costs? : an analysis of the justification of Lamu Port construction and its impacts on local fishing communities
Author: Malkamäki, Katariina
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202101201299
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/324907
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Yhteiskunnallisen muutoksen maisteriohjelma
Master's Programme in Society and Change
Magisterprogrammet för samhälle i förändring
Specialisation: Kehitysmaatutkimus
Development Studies
U-landsforskning
Abstract: Chinese infrastructural investments in Africa have increased significantly. In mainstream development studies, such investments are strongly encouraged due to their potential to create economic growth and modernisation. Because of controversies around such projects, regarding their impacts on the economy and locals, they require continuing political-economic analysis. Using Lamu Port in Kenya as a case study, this thesis provides a critical analysis of the justification, planning, implementation and construction processes of the project are examined especially from the point of view of local artisanal fishermen. Framed around the theory of social costs developed by K.W.Kapp, as a critique of neoliberal modernisation, fieldwork was carried out in Lamu to systematically analyse both the official justification of the project and the perceptions of local fishers and other locals on the impacts of the port construction on their lives. Data collected from one-on-one interviews have been systematised using Attride-Stirling’s thematic networks analysis. Along with a textual analysis of original official documents by the Government of Kenya and the LAPSSET authority, the thesis avoids earlier problems of methodological nationalism and, instead, develops a holistic analysis of social costs. The results show that, while some local jobs have been created, they are temporary and marginal and are nowhere near significant enough to make up for the undermining of local livelihoods through the reduction of fish stocks. A wider question of food security and long-term job security needs to be raised. The local economy before the construction of the port was stagnant, but it was stable. New jobs related to port construction proved not to be available. Widespread discrimination against locals further complicates the social costs of public-private enterprise. These results show a lack of congruence between the statements by the Government of Kenya, the optimism by international development agencies, and modernisation theorists on the one hand and the lived realities of fishers on the other. The transnational corporations constructing the port in this case the China Communications Construction company have, in the meanwhile, continued to make more profit and increased the price of their share on the world market. This disconnect indicates one way in which development projects are socially constructed and justified, while the dominance of a profit-oriented capitalistic system shifts costs of production to third parties and the environment in order to continue to extract profit from the Global South. As these social costs are systemic, their remedy would require restructuring the institutional foundations of the local, national, and global political economy of development and change
Subject: development
critical development studies
infrastructure
ports
social costs
Lamu
Kenya
Africa


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