ELGEYO MARAKWET COUNTY REVIEW
Elgeyo Marakwet County is located in the former Rift Valley province and covers a total area of 3,029.8 kilometres squared hence making it one of the smallest counties in the country. It borders Baringo, Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia Counties. It administrative centre is Kapsowar where most of the government offices are planned to be located.
According to the national census exercise that was carried out in 2009 by the government of Kenya, the total number of people living in Elgeyo Mrakwet County is projected to be 369,998 hence its among the lowly populated counties in the country. 14.4% of the total population reside in the urban areas in the county while the rest of the population reside in the rural areas.
According to the National Boundaries Commission of Kenya, Elgeyo Marakwet County constitute of four constituencies namely:
• Marakwet East Constituency
• Marakwet West Constituency
• Keiyo North Constituency
• Keiyo South Constituency
Marakwet and Keiyo Districts are some of the districts that have being mapped in the county.
GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Elgeyo Marakwet County enjoys moderate climate that is attributed by the average altitude of the county. The higher you go the cooler it becomes the county experience a minimum rainfall of 14 degrees Celsius during the cold month of July and 24 degrees Celsius during the hottest month (January).
The average rainfall ranges between 400 millimetres in the lowlands and 1400 millimetres in the highlands per annum. The amount of rainfall received determines the kind of economic activity that takes place in the region. In the lowlands only crops that are well adapted to high temperatures and low rainfall are grown while in the highland residents are able to plant a wide range of crops due to the adequate rainfall and moderate temperatures experienced in the area.
The soils in some parts are very fertile especially in the high areas but in some parts the soil is not conducive for any agricultural activity. The soils lack humus and most of the plant nutrients. Due to the steep slopes and low ground cover highland areas soil erosion is experienced especially during the rainy season.
The high areas in Elgeyo Marakwet County have an average altitude of 2300 metres while the lowlands have an average of 1000 metres above the sea level. This explains the high temperatures in the lowlands and cool temperatures in the high areas.
There are a number of constrains that hinder various agricultural activities from taking place in Elgeyo Marakwet County. This includes poor soils, unpredictable rainfall and temperature regimes that are aggrevated by the effects of global warming and climate change and the social cultural believes of the Pokot Community.
Livestock keeping is one of the major agricultural activities carried out in the region. Residents keep large herds of cattle, sheep, goats and camel that are usually grazed in the various community land pieces in the county. Some of the farmers have set up ranches that specialise in intensive livestock keeping that provide various animal products to the residents and nearby counties.
Traditional animal keepers usually move around with their animals in search of pastures and water for the animals as well as their own for domestic purposes. Wells have been drilled in the county so as to supplement the water sourced from the various seasonal rivers in the county.
Other agricultural products grown in the area include bananas, maize, beans, potatoes, peas and vegetables. Some of the produce is consumed locally while the surplus is sold in the various agricultural markets in the country.
Elgeyo Marakwet County main economic activity is livestock keeping. Kenya Meat Commission regular purchases animals from the farmers and this in turn help them to meet their various financial obligations. Farmers also sell their various farm products and this in turn helps them to generate some income to keep them going especially in this era of high inflation rates.
There are a total of five commercial banks and one micro finance institution that provide the residents with affordable financial services. Businesses have being set up especially along the major roads and urban areas and this helps to ensure that residents get easy access to their basic needs.
Tourism helps to generate revenue that is used to foster development in Elgeyo Marakwet County. Some of the tourist attraction sites include Kerio Valley National Reserve and Cherang’any hills. Several lodges have being constructed in this ares to provide accommodation and caterings services to the residents.
HEALTH AND EDUCATION
There are a total of three hundred and seventy three primary schools and seventy five secondary schools. The government needs to build more schools so as to alienate illiteracy in the county.
Elgeyo Marakwet County has one 113 district hospitals and over 100 other health facilities providing quality health services to the residents. More VCT centres should be constructed to educate the people on the various sexually transmitted diseases that may affect some of them.