GARISSA COUNTY REVIEW
Garissa County is one of the counties found in the North Eastern part of Kenya. Garissa town in the administrative centre of this region, it has 3 districts namely Lagdera, Fafi and Lujis according to the Kenya Boundaries Commission. It covers an area of approximately 580,367 kilometres squared.
According to the national census program that was carried out in 2009 the population of Garissa County is approximately 623,060. The male population is estimated to be 334,939 while that of the female is 288,121. It is also approximated that the number of people that live in the urban regions of the county are around 146,668 while the rest of the population lives in the rural areas. The total population is expected to increase by around 3% before the next census is carried out.
There are 4 constituencies that constitute this county namely:
- Dujis Constituency
- Lagdera Constituency
- Fafi Constituency
- Ijara Constituency
GEOGRAPGHY AND CLIMATE
The landscape of Garissa County is mostly hot and dry with a desert terrain of scrubs and other plant species such as Cactus that are well adapted to the hot temperatures. One of the factors that contribute to the climate of the region is its proximity to the equator. This result in the region experiencing high temperatures as compared to other areas that is far away from the equator.
One of the main sources of water in Garissa County is River Tana which provides water for both domestic and agricultural purposes. The climate of the region is basically warm and hot in most times of the year. The daily temperature is approximately 33 degrees Celsius on average. The hottest months are January, February and March when the temperatures rise up to 38.3 degrees Celsius while the coldest season is experienced at around June- July. During this time the temperature may drop up to 21.2 degrees Celsius. The County is usually very hot during the day and very cold at night and again this is attributed to the low altitude that ranges between 70m and 400m above sea the sea level.
The amount of rainfall received in the region is very low with an average of 150mm to 300mm an year. This results in droughts since the low precipitation received cannot support most of the crops grown for food production such as maize unless under irrigation.
The most dominant type soil in this region is sand which has coarse texture and low water holding capacity. Due to the low altitude, areas around River Tana are usually flooded during the rainy seasons.
Farming is usually carried out along the rivers due to the rich soils and adequate water in these regions. Some of the crops that are grown include mangoes, sweet melons, tomatoes, paw paws and bananas. Some farmers also grow maize for domestic use while the surplus is sold in the market.
Livestock keeping is another agricultural activity carried out in Garissa County. Most of the residents are pastoralists who move with their livestock in search of pasture and water. This activity is very dependent on weather patterns hence the area is adversely affected by climate change and global warming due to its un-sustainability as a source of food to the community. Recently some of the farmers have being practising beekeeping as an alternative source of income.
Fishing is one of the economic activities carried out in the region. This is usually carried out along river Tana, Lake Bodhai and Lake Jirey. This economic activity is usually practised on small scale using hooks and small fishing boats that are fitted with fishing nets. Fish harvested is used as food while the surplus is sold to the towns in Garissa County.
The ministry of Livestock also purchase livestock from communities especially during the dry seasons giving the people a source of livelihood. Women in the region have also formed groups that receive funding from government and other organisations to grow Aloe Vera which is a medicinal plant.
Horticultural farming is also carried along river Tana, some of the fruits grown are paw paws, mangoes, water melon and bananas. Farmers are able to support themselves through the sale of these horticultural products to various food processing companies in the country.
Good health of the community very vital in ensuring economic growth. The government of Kenya in conjunction with other world organisations has set up more than 16 dispensaries, 5 health centres and more than 25 private health centres that provide reliable health services to the residents. There is also a medical training college that offers world class nursing classes to scholars from around the region and beyond.
The government needs to implement various agricultural policies to ensure sustainable use of natural resources in the region. Sustainable agricultural activities can help to reduce the susceptibility of Garissa County to climate change and global warming.