Overview of Baringo County
Baringo County is located in the former Rift Valley Province of Kenya, about 270km north-west of Nairobi.
It covers an area of 11,015.32 sq km.
It borders seven counties; Samburu and Laikipia to the east, Turkana to the north and north east, Nakuru to the south, Elgeyo Marakwet to the west, West Pokot to to the north west and Kericho and Uasin Gishu to the south west.
The name Baringo is derived from the word mparingo which means 'lake' in the language of Njemps who live in the areas' south and south-east of the lake.
Baringo County Government
Baringo County constitutes five constituencies: Tiaty, Baringo North, Baringo Central, Baringo South, Mogotio and Eldama Ravine.
The county's top leaders are Benjamin Cheboi (Governor), Benard Leparamarai (County Commissioner), Gideon Moi (Senator) and Grace Kiptui (Women Representative).
Other top leaders in the county include Kamama Asman (MP-Tiaty), William Cheptumo (MP-Baringo North), Sammy Mwaita (MP-Baringo Central), Grace Kipchoim (MP-Baringo South), Hellen Sambili (MP-Mogotio) and Moses Lessonet (MP-Eldama Ravine)
Baringo County is home to 555,561 people (male - 50% and female - 50%), according to the 2009 National Census. The dominant ethnic groups in Baringo are the Pokots, Tugens, Endorois and Ilchamus. Pokots and Tugens are linguistically related groups of the larger Kalenjin tribe. These communities mainly keep livestock, although the people living in highlands usually practise subsistence farming - mainly growing maize and beans.
Other communities living in Baringo County include Turkana, Kikuyu, Meru, Luhyia, Kamba and Luo. Most of these people live in Baringo’s urban centres and most of them do business or are in formal/informal employment.
Religion and Traditional Culture
Most people are Christians, although there are a small number of residents who still adhere to traditional beliefs. The people of Baringo speak the Kalenjin language, specifically Tugen. Most speak Kiswahili and English too. Traditionally, the people of Baringo believed in a god Asis, who is represented in the form of the sun. But today, most Kalenjins have abandoned their traditional beliefs for Christianity. Popular Christian denominations in Baringo include the African Inland Church (AIC), Roman Catholic and the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK).
Livestock, especially cattle, is an important feature of the Baringo culture. It a major source of wealth and serves as a form of traditional currency used to negotiate for wives and dowry payment. As such, it is common for Pokots and other ethnic groups to raid their their neighbouring communities - especially the the Turkana - to enlarge their herds.
Among the Kalenjins, men are traditionally responsible for looking after livestock and protecting their family from external aggressors. Women are tasked with taking care of children, working in the farm and performing domestic duties such as cooking and fetching water. Children usually look after goats and sheep, but in the modern lifestyle, most of them attend school and have attain formal education.
Kabarnet town is the headquarters of Baringo County. It is located about 260 km north-west of Nairobi along the slopes of the Tugen Hills. Trade of farm produce, mainly maize and beans, is the main economic activity in Kabarnet. Farmers usually come to the town to sell their products to traders from Nairobi, Nakuru and other neighbouring towns.
Kabarnet is the home town of Kenya's second president Daniel Arap Moi. The town has a museum - Kabarnet Museum - that showcases elements from Baringo culture and traditions.
Other urban centres include Eldama Ravine, Marigat, Maji Mazuri, Mogotio and Timboroa.
Climate and Weather
Baringo County has two distinct weather patterns with temperatures in the southern part ranging between 25°C during the cold months (June and July) and 30°C during the hot months (January and February) while in the northern parts, temperatures range between 30°C to 35°C. The county receives between 1000mm and 1500mm of rainfall annually in the highlands and 600mm in the lowlands. Baringo experiences two rainy seasons; March to June (long rains) and November (short rains).
Agriculture is the backbone of the Baringo County economy. In the highlands cash crop farming of coffee and cotton the main economic activity, although food crops such as maize and beans are also grown in the area. In the lowlands livestock keeping is carried out to supplement crops farming. Animals kept here include cattle, goats, sheep and camels.
Bee keeping and Aloe Vera plant cultivation are the emerging economic activities in Baringo. These products are processed locally, with the aloe vera factory in Koriema being the only aloe vera processing factory in Kenya.
Because of the many tourist attractions located within the county, tourism is a major income generating activity in Baringo. Attractions such as Lake Baringo and Lake Bogoria draw many domestic and foreign tourists thereby earning the county good revenue.
Baringo County has several healthcare facilities serving the residents of the county. Notable hospitals in the county include Kabarnet District Hospital, Eldama Ravine District Hospital and Mogotio District Hospital.
There are 587 primary schools and 103 secondary schools in Baringo County. About 142,000 pupils are currently enrolled in the county's 587 primary schools, with another 19,000 attending secondary schools. The county's Teacher to Pupil Ratio is 1: 27 for public primary schools and 1:27 for public secondary schools.
Some of the top high schools in Baringo County include Sacho High School, Kabarnet High School, Baringo High School, Elmining Secondary School and Kapropita Girls High School. There are no universities yet in this county but there are several polytechnics and colleges including the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC-Kabarnet) and the Moi-Baringo Teachers College.
Some of the famous people in Baringo County include Daniel Arap Moi and Paul Tergat.
Daniel Arap Moi was the second President of Kenya from 1978 to 2002. He had served as the Vice-President of Kenya from 1967 to 1978. Mr Moi was born at Kurieng'wo village in Baringo County. Paul Kibii Tergat is a Kenyan athlete who held the world record in the marathon from 2003 to 2007 - with a time of 2:04:55. Mr Tergat, who lives in Ngong town near Nairobi, was born at Riwo village in Baringo.
Places of Interest
Tourist attractions in Baringo County include Lake Bogoria National Reserve, Lake Baringo, Tugen Hills and Kabarnet Museum.
Lake Bogoria National Reserve which covers 107 sq km, is home to a huge population of wildlife including leopards, cheetahs, zebra, monkeys and the scarce kudu antelopes. The reserve has more than 350 bird species, including over 2million lesser flamingoes. Hot springs situated along the banks of Lake Bogoria are a major tourist attraction in the county.
The 144 sq km Lake Baringo offers beautiful scenery. It has nine islands, the largest of which is called Olkokwe - covering about 1,200 hectares. The island is home to the Ilchamus community. The lake supports 450 bird species including Paradise Flycatcher, Marabou Stocks, Hemphrick's Hornbill and many others. Dr. Richard Leakey’s Snake Park and Lake Baringo Reptile Park, both located in the lakeshore, are major tourist attractions in Lake Baringo.
Tugen Hills offer beautiful sceneries to the tourists, while the Kabarnet museum is a major attraction to visitors interested in learning about the Baringo history and culture.
Travelling to Baringo County
Baringo is easily accessible by road from neighbouring towns, thanks to the county's well maintained roads. The county is about 270km from Nairobi and 115km from Nakuru. It is accessible from Nairobi via Nakuru town. From Nakuru you can travel to Kabarnet through Eldama Ravine. You can also access Baringo from Eldoret via Kabarnet. There is an airstrip near Kabarnet town, but no commerical flights fly to this airstrip.
Popular places to stay in Baringo County include The Tamarind Gardens, Kabarnet Hotel, Sportsline Hotel, Sinkoro Hotel, White Cafe Hotel and Safari Hotel. Several guest houses and budget value accommodation can be found in Kabarnet and other major urban centres in the county.
Baringo County is served by several commercial banks including Equity Bank, Barclays Bank, Family Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Post Bank and Co-operative Bank. Safaricom M-Pesa services are readily available in most parts of the county.
There are curio shops in many parts of Baringo, especially near Lake Baringo and Bogoria as well as in other tourist attractions. These shops sell local artefacts such as sisal baskets and wood/soapstone sculptures. Kabarnet town has several petrol stations, supermarkets, retail shops and a vibrant market where farmers sell their farm produce.
TOP of the Baringo County