Basecamp Foundation

Lamu Dhow Building School project

Basecamp’s Dhow Building School at the World heritage site of Lamu provides training, capacity building and jobs in the Lamu archipelago as well as helping local communities to preserve a rich cultural heritage. So far, two traditional dhows have been built, also offering accommodation and adventure for tourists.

thumb-15Basecamp has initiated the dhow building project as a cultural and educational support program directed towards the Lamu youth community, seeking to maintain and strengthen the cultural significance of the dhow craftsmanship. The first dhow constructed by the Lamu Dhow revival project is the 54 ft long Swalihina, the second is the 42 ft Alintiswhar; finished in 2007 and 2008, respectively. They are unique examples of art combining tradition and technology that have brought back the glory of boat building to Lamu.

The building process involved youth working as apprentices under an experienced traditional boat builder: A master carpenter and a boat builder from Norway have been at the school bridging knowledge between traditional Swahili boat building and Scandinavian wooden boat building traditions. Some apprentices who helped building the boats have since established their own boat building/repairs enterprises. Many others lack the requisite financial resources to start such business.

Together with our main partners, The National Museum of Kenya and the Strømme Foundation in Norway we want to raise awareness about the advantages of community-oriented sustainable tourism. We have a long-term perspective, intending to build a fleet of dhows with local crews and make dhow sailing programs a unique tourism product for the international market. The local communities have already gained first-hand experience with the benefits of sustainable tourism.

The school has been dormant since the completion of Alintiswar. Consultations are ongoing with the National Museums of Kenya to donate land for the establishment of a capacity centre that will incorporate dhow building among other training opportunities. Once the land has been made availed through a Memorandum of Understanding with National Museums of Kenya, funding will be necessary to finance the centre and its activities



Capacity, Culture

Lamu, Kenya


  • Preserve traditional culture by keeping dhow-building skills alive.
  • Develop craftmanship and entrepreneurial skills and create income opportunities.

Time frame:

Started 2004, planning period till 2015

Partners and stakeholders:

Support options:

  • Guest contributions
  • Online donations

Donate via PayPal to the Lamu Dhow Building School project here:

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