TURKANA COUNTY REVIEW
Turkana County is located in the northern parts of Kenya and covers a total area of 68,680.3 kilometres squared. It borders Baringo, Samburu and West Pokot Counties that are also located in the region. Some of the districts that are mapped in the county include Turkana North, Turkana South and Central Turkana.
According to the national census exercise that was held in 2009, the total population of Turkna County is estimated to be 855,399. 14.2% of the total population is approximated to be living in the urban areas of the county while the other percentage resides in the rural areas. This numbers are projected to increase by the next national census by at least 2.3%.
There are a total of three constituencies that are mapped in Turkana County namely:
• Turkana North
• Turkana Central
• Turkana South.
GEOGRAPGHY AND CLIMATE
Turkana County is one of the driest counties in the country; it receives perennial rainfall that is very unpredictable. The region at times receives no rain in a whole year and when it does rain the average amount received is approximated to range between 150 to 250mm annually. This in turn hinders the farmers from practising the various crop farming practises carried out in the highlands.
The soils are mostly sandy and lack most of the plant nutrients hence only crops that are adapted to the soils survive in Turkana County. Some of the characteristics include low water holding capacity, low humus content, salinity and high water infiltration rate. For residents to practise intensive farming they have to implement various intensive soil management practises that may be expensive and uneconomical in the long run.
The county lies on an altitude of 355 metres above the sea level and this explains the high temperatures experienced all year round. The area is generally hot, temperatures are very high during the day and very low at night. Average temperatures are approximated to be between 25 and 35 degrees Celsius.
Turkana County is not one of the most favourable areas to carry out agricultural activities. However the government has started to implement various irrigation schemes in the region that can help in alienating poverty and improve food security in the region. Some of the crops grown include sorghum, millet and cassava because they are well adapted to growing uder high temperatures and do not require a lot of water. Specific maize species have also being introduced in the region, this one has been genetically developed to survive in the prevailing conditions of the county.
Livestock farming is the predominant form of agriculture carried out in Turkana County. Most of the residents are livestock keepers who own large herds of animals such as cattle, sheep, goats and camels. They are nomadic pastoralists who move around with their animals in search of water and pastures for their animals. The high numbers of animals kept has led to certain land degradation effects such as desertification and increased soil erosion due to removal of all the ground cover by the animals.
Most of the rivers in the area are seasonal and this in turn aggravates the problem of water shortage. Omo river that flows from Ethiopia and drain to Lake Turkana is one of the permanent rivers in the county that supply water for both domestic and agricultural purposes. Due to the flat nature of the county, during the rainy season it experiences flush floods that lead to loss of life and property since the residents are caught unaware.
Livestock Farming if one of the major economic activities that residents depend on for their livelihood in term of meeting their various financial needs. Kenya Meat Commission often purchases livestock from the farmers for meat production especially during the dry season.
Surplus farm products are usually sold in the various agricultural markets in the county but this is not usually the case due to the harsh weather patterns that hinder farmers from growing many crops in their farms.
Lake Turkana National Park is one of the major tourist attraction sites in the county. Both local and international tourist visit the county and this in turn helps to promote economic growth in the county. There are several businesses that have being set up mostly in the urban areas. Examples are retail and whole sale shops, petrol stations and supermarkets.
There are a total of three commercial banks and 2 micro finances that provide Turkana County residents with affordable and reliable financial services such as loans.
HEALTH AND EDUCATION
Acccording to a survey that was carried out in 2007, the total number of primary schools in the county are 202 and 19 secondary school. Most of these schools are not well equipped hence the government need to ensure that the facilities are well able to provide quality education to the young generation in Turkana County.
There are three district hospitals and over 100 heath centres in the county. As compared to other counties the region requires more hospitals so as to meet the health needs of the population.