KIRINYAGA COUNTY: Near Mt Kenya.
KIRINYAGA COUNTY REVIEW.
Kirinyaga County is located in the central part of Kenya near Mt Kenya. It borders Murang’a county and Nyeri Counties that are also mapped in the area. Many of the administrative offices are located in Kerugoya Town.
According to the national census that was carried out in 2009, the population of the county is estimated to be 528,054. 83,404 of the population live in the urban areas in the county while the rest reside in the rural areas. The number of males in the county is lower as compared to females. The total population is expected to increase by about 1.5% before the next census exercise.
Kirinyaga county is made up of four constituencies namely:
- Gichugu Constituency
- Nandia Constituency
- Kerugoya Constituency
- Mwea Constituency
GEOGRAGHY AND CLIMATE
Due to the high altitude of the region, Kirinyaga county is usually cooler as compared some other counties in the country such as Isiolo and Mandera. The proximity of the county to Mt Kenya also contributes to the cool temperatures experienced in the area. The annual rainfall received range between 1000- 1300mm and this enables the residents to plant a wide range of crops. Altitude ranges between 1000-1200 metres above the sea level.
Temperature range between 20 degrees Celsius and 22 degrees but this pattern is expected to change in the near future as a result of climate change and global warming.
The soils are mostly volcanic soils with good water holding capacity and all the major plant nutrients. However in some areas farmers have to add fertilizers in order to increase the amounts of certain nutrients in the soil. The area is generally gentle sloping hence soil erosion is not a major problem here. However it is important to note that degradation of the environment such as deforestation may lead to soil erosion and even landslides in some parts of the county.
There are many rivers that flow through Kirinyaga county; some are seasonal while others are permanent. They provide water for domestic, agriculture and industrial purposes. Example of rivers includes River Tana, Rutui River and Kathiri River.
This is one of the major economic activities carried out in the region. Most of the farmers practise coffee and tea farming which are the main cash crops in the county. Dairy farming is also carried by very many of the farmers and this provides milk and other dairy products to the residents. Animals kept include cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, rabbits and chicken.
Fishing is also carried out along river Tana, some of the farmers have also constructed fish ponds to rear the fish. This activity is very essential in the area because it helps to enhance food security as well as provide the farmers with a source of income.
There is one irrigation scheme in Kirinyaga county called Mwea Irrigation scheme. The main crop grown here is rice which is consumed locally and in the nearby towns such as Muranga and Nyeri.
In a bid to conserve the environment some parts of the county are under Agro-forestry and this helps to prevent degradation the water catchment areas. Other crops that are grown in the area include maize, bananas and vegetables that are produced for both subsistence and commercial purposes.
Agriculture is the backbone of Kirinyaga County Economy. Most of the residents are employed in the various agricultural factories such as coffee and tea factories while the rest work in their own farms. The yield from the farms is usually sold in the local market places while the surplus is transported to neighbouring towns by road.
The good road network which includes all-weather roads has helped to boost economic growth in Kirinyaga county. However the Government need to build more roads in order to meet the needs of all the residents of the county and this in turn will lead to overall economic growth.
There are a number of financial institutions in Kirinyaga county namely:
- Equity Bank
- Family Bank
- K-Rep Bank
- Mwonania Co-Operative & Credit Society Limited
- Co-operative Bank of Kenya
TOURISM IN KIRINYAGA COUNTY
One of the major tourist attraction sites in the area is Mt Kenya which attracts many local and international tourists. This sector also contributes to the overall economy of the county due to the revenue generated from the various hotels and lodges that provide affordable and quality accommodation and catering services to the tourists.
Mwea National Reserve also attracts tourist due to the many bird and animal species in the area.