Overview of Busia County
Busia County in the former Western Province is the gateway to Kenya from the neighbouring Uganda, with two border crossing points at Busia and Malaba towns.
The county that spans 1,695 sq km borders Uganda to the north, north-east and west, Lake Victoria to south west, Siaya to the south and south-east and Kakamega and Bungoma to the east.
Busia, whose main economic activities are subsistence farming and fishing, has the potential to become a trading hub for the two East African countries.
Busia County Government
Busia County consists of seven constituencies, namely; Budalangi, Matayos, Nambale, Funyula, Teso North, Teso and Butula. The constituencies are represented by the following members of the National Assembly: Ababu Namwamba (MP-Budalangi), Geoffrey Odanga (MP-Matayos), John Bunyasi (MP-Nambale), Paul Otuoma (MP-Funyula), Arthur Odera (MP-Teso North), Mary Otuch (MP-Teso South) and Michael Onyura (MP-Butula). Other top leaders in Busia County include Sospeter Ojaamong (Governor), Josephine Onunga (Acting County Commissioner), Amos Wako (Senator), Florence Mwikali Mutua (Women Representative) and several members of the County Assembly.
Who lives in Busia County?
Busia County has a population of 743,946 people (48% male and 52% female), according to the 2009 National Census. The Luhya tribe, the second largest ethnic group in Kenya after Kikuyu, is the dominant community in Busia - although the county has a significant population of Teso and Luo. The Luhya mainly earn their living as small scale farmers, producing maize, beans, groundnuts, cassava, sorghum, vegetables and fruits. The Teso also engage in subsistence farming and trade in agricultural produce. On the other hand, the Luo - who mainly live in fishing villages near the shores of Lake Victoria, are fish farmers and traders.
Religion and Culture
Most of the residents of Busia County are Christians, although there is a significant population of Muslims in the urban centres. Traditionally, both Luo and Luyha believe in a god called Nyasaye, the supreme essence that created the sky and the earth. Nyasaye is also believed to control all the affairs of human beings. The Teso are also strongly monotheistic – believing in a god called Akuju, who lives in the sky. They also believe in life after death. Customarily the Luhya, Luo and Teso practised polygamy – which was seen as a sign of wealth depending on the number of wives a man had married. This is because only wealthy men could afford to pay dowry (cattle, goats and sheep) for more than one wife. Today, polygamy is waning as most residents have converted to Christianity. The Luhya also practice male circumcision as a passage from childhood to adulthood. The Teso and Luo traditionally do not circumcise their males. However, the practice is quickly gaining currency among the communities as a means to help limit the spread of HIV and Aids.
Situated about 430km from Nairobi along a highway that connects Kenya to central Africa, Busia town is the capital of Busia County. The town is an important centre for trade across the region, supporting a thriving market for farm produce and poultry products. HIV and Aids are rife in Busia town owing to a huge number of sex workers who frequent the town in search of moneyed business men and truck driver on their way to and from central Africa.
Located along the Nairobi-Kampala highway, about 480km from Nairobi, Malaba is also a busy crossing point between Kenya and Uganda. A proposed new standard gauge railway from Mombasa through Kampala to Kigali, Rwanda, is expected to pass through Malaba town.
Busia County has a tropical humid climate due to the influence of the Lake Victoria. The county's annual temperatures range between 17°C and 30°C with average annual temperatures of between 24°C and 26°C. Busia’s mean annual rainfall is between 900mm and 1,500mm distributed throughout the year. The long rains are usually experienced between and March and June with short rains falling between September and October.
Agriculture, fishing and trade are the main economic activities in Busia County. Being the entry points between Kenya and Uganda, Busia and Malaba towns are thriving trade centres where livestock, agricultural products and manufactured goods are traded. Busia's climate is conducive for agriculture. Some of the crops that are grown within the county in small scale include maize, beans, sweet potatoes, millet, cassava, cotton and sugar cane. Fishing is also a major economic activity in Busia, thanks to the nearby Lake Victoria that supports a huge population of fish including Nile Perch and Tilapia.
Busia County is not adequately equipped with healthcare facilities and the few that exist serve both the county's residents and people from the neighbouring districts of Uganda. Some of the top facilities in the county include Busia and Kocholia district hospitals, Port Victoria Hospital as well as Malaba, Amukara, Bumula and Moding health centres. The government recently set aside Sh500 million for the improvement of health care in the county, including the establishment of a medical training centre at the Busia District Hospital.
Busia County had 420 primary schools and 90 secondary schools in 2007, with populations of 237,338 pupils and 98,680 students respectively – according to data from the Ministry of Education. The best performing secondary schools in the county include Butula High School, Nambale High School, Sigalame High School, S.A. Kolanya Girls Secondary, St. Monica Chakol Girls High among others. Institutions of higher learning in Busia include Busia Teachers Training College, several commercial colleges and a bible college. The government is planning to set up a constituent campus of Masinde Muliro University in Nambale constituency.
Moody Awori, Amos Wako and Dr. Julia Ojiambo are some of the famous people in Busia County. Moody Awori, a veteran Kenyan politician and a former MP for Funyula, served as the Vice President of Kenya from 2003 to 2007. Amos Wako is the longest serving Attorney General of Kenya, having held the position from 1991 to 2011. He is currently the senator for Busia County. Dr. Julia Ojiambo, a former MP for Funyula and a scholar, is a woman of many firsts. She was the first Kenyan woman to study at the Harvard University School of Public Health, the first woman to to be appointed assistant minister in the Kenyatta government, among many other achievements.
Attractions and Places of Interest
The Kakapel National Monument, which is located on a huge rock site in the Chelelemuk hills – just a few kilometres from the Kenya-Uganda border, is one of the top attractions of Busia County. The site that was gazetted as a national monument in 2004 comprises spectacular rock art that is believed to have been crafted by a group of hunters about 4,000 years ago. Kakapel has red paintings (drawn with fingers) illustrating animals, geometric designs and ceremonial symbols. The site is administered by the Trust for Africa Rock Art (TARA) and the National Museums of Kenya.
Traveling to Busia County
Despite being a major entry point to Uganda and the great lakes region, Busia County's transport infrastructure is poor. The roads within the county are not tarmacked save for the Nairobi-Kampala Road. Because of the poor state of roads, the estates within the Busia towns do not have reliable public transport systems. Motor bikes, commonly known as boda boda, are the main means of transport in Busia.
The main towns of Busia County enjoy a booming accommodation business due to the county's location at the border point. Some of the top facilities include Farmview Hotel, Younear Guesthouse and Hotel Itoya. Budget hotels and guest houses can also be found in Busia, Malaba and Amagoro towns.
Busia County, being a busy entry point to the great lakes region, is well serviced by leading banking institutions. These include the Co-operative Bank, KCB, Standard Chartered Bank, National Bank, CFC Stanbic Bank, Diamond Trust Bank (DTB), Barclay Bank, Equity Bank, Post Bank and Family Bank.
Major shopping facilities in Busia County include Yako Supermarket, Tesia Supermarket and Soko Posta open air market. Small open air markets can be found in most trading centres around the county where residents trade their farm produce and livestock.
TOP of the Busia County