Overview of Nyeri County

Nyeri County is located in the former Central Province of Kenya, about 150 kilometers north of Nairobi.

Nyeri, Kenya

It covers an area of 3,337 square kilometers.

Nyeri shares its borders with five other counties; Kirinyaga to the east, Nyandarua to the west, Muranga to the south, Laikipia to the north and Meru to the north east.

The name Nyeri is derived from the Maasai word nyiro, meaning red.

The Maasai people, who once lived in the county, called the area nyiro - after it's red volcanic soil.

The named was later changed to Nyeri by white settler farmers.


Nyeri County Government

Nyeri County constitutes six constituencies; Nyeri Town, Othaya, Tetu, Kieni, Mathira and Mukurwe-ini.

The county's top leaders are Nderitu Gachagua (Governor), Michael Mwangi (County Commissioner), Mutahi Kagwe (Senator) and Priscilla Nyokabi (Women Representative).

Other top leaders in Nyeri County include Esther Murugi (MP-Nyeri Town), Mary Wambui (MP-Othaya), James Gethenji (MP-Tetu), Kanini Kega (MP-Kieni), Peter Kinyua (MP-Mathira), Kabando wa Kabando (MP-Mukurwe-ini).

Who lives in Nyeri County?

Nyeri County is home to 693,558 people (male - 49% and female - 51%), according to the 2009 National Census. Majority of the people living in Nyeri County are Kikuyus - the most populous tribe in Kenya at 22% of the country's population.

Most Kikuyus living here are predominantly farmers growing tea and coffee as cash crops alongside food crops such as maize, beans, assorted vegetables and sweet potatoes. Other communities living in the county include Luo, Meru, Kamba, Embu, Borana and Somali who mostly do their own businesses or employed by the government.

Religion and Culture

Majority of people living in Nyeri county are Christians. Notable among Christian faith are the Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Anglican Pentecostals and Akorino denominations. There’s a small number residents, mainly found in major towns, who prophesy to the Muslim and Hindu religions.

The Kikuyu people speak Gikuyu; a language widely spoken across the country even in towns where a majority of people speak Kiswahili. English language is primarily used in the education system and in the employment sector.

Gikuyus traditionally believed in a single god, called ngai (the provider), living at the top of Mount Kenya. However, most Kikuyus have abandoned their traditional beliefs for Christianity.

Major Towns

Nyeri:

Nyeri Town

Set on the foothills of the Aberdare Mountain Ranges, about 150km from Nairobi, Nyeri is the headquarters of Nyeri County.

Tourism and agriculture are the backbone of the town's economy as it neighbours rich agricultural fields and popular tourist attractions such as the Aberdare National Park and Mount Kenya.

Karatina:

Located on the Nairobi-Nyeri road, about 20km from Nyeri town, Karatina is known for its large vegetable and food market.

The Karatina Market, which operates on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, is reputed to be the second largest open air market in Africa after Addis Ababa's Merkato Market.

Othaya:

Othaya is located 120km north of Nairobi. It is a small agricultural town with coffee and tea as the main cash crops grown in the farms. Othaya is home to former President Mwai Kibaki.

Climate and Weather

Nyeri county has some of the lowest temperatures in Kenya which range between 12°C in the cold months (June and July) and 27°C in the hot months (January-March and September-October) with high precipitation all year round.

The rainfall average lies between 500 mm and 1500 mm during the short and long rains periods making it conducive for its diverse agricultural activity.

Economic Activities

Nestling between Mount Kenya and the Aberdare ranges, agriculture is the main economic activity in Nyeri. The county is renowned for its high production of tea and coffee, which are grown mainly for export.

Nyeri Farmer

These crops earn farmers billions of shillings every year. In 2012, Nyeri farmers earned Sh2.58 billion in tea bonus payments. Many other residents are engaged in retail business across the main towns and in open-air markets selling agricultural produce.

Nyeri is also renowned for horticultural farming. Large scale flower farms in the county include Mweiga Blooms in Kieni and Wilmar Flowers in Sagana area. Green house farming is also becoming popular among small scale vegetable farmers, where they engage in growing tomatoes, courgettes, green pepper, strawberry and capsicum among others.

Other agricultural activities which act as a source of income include dairy farming and fish keeping in Tetu, Aguthi, and Chinga Dam areas. Dairy farming is mostly practised on a small scale basis mainly at homes. There is Trout rearing around the base of Mt. Kenya, and along the Chania and Gura rivers.

Flour Mill Nyeri

Nyeri County has a number of light industries which provide employment opportunities and markets for local produce. Notable factories include Maisha Flour Millers, Brookside Dairy, Mount Kenya Bottlers and Highlands Mineral Water.

There are six tea factories in Nyeri County; Kagochi, Chinga, Gathuthi, Gitugi, Iria-ini and Ragati, providing a market and employment to the locals.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also run various projects in the county. Organizations such as USAID, DFID, the UN and NACADA are involved in funding and sustenance of humanitarian projects such as environmental conservation, bee keeping, horticulture, health and other socio-economic activities that have impacted the lives of the county residents.

Health Facilities

There are several hospitals and health centres in Nyeri. Notable healthcare facilities include the Nyeri Provincial General Hospital, Karatina District Hospital, Mukurwe-Ini Sub District Hospital and Othaya Sub-District Hospital.

Church-run health facilities include Consolata Hospital, PCEA Tumutumu and Mary Immaculate Hospital in Mweiga. Private hospitals include the Outspan hospital, Mt. Kenya Hospital, Jamii Nursing Home, Nyeri Surgicare Centre, and Waka Ruring’u Maternity.

Education

As of 2013, there are 584 primary schools and 194 high schools in Nyeri County, serving 145,906 and 47,524 students respectively. The county's Teacher to Pupil Ratio is 1: 35 for public primary schools and 1:25 for public high schools.

Some of the top high schools in Nyeri include Kagumo High School, Nyeri High School, Bishop Gatimu Ngandu Girls and Othaya Boys High school among others. The county has several renowned schools, colleges and universities. These include the Dedan Kimathi University, Moi University Campus, Kenyatta University Campus, and University of Nairobi Distance Learning Center.

Other top colleges include Nyeri Technical Training College, Mathenge Technical Institute, Kamwenja Teachers College and Kagumo P1 Teachers College.

Notable personalities

Some of the famous people who hail from Nyeri County include former President Mwai Kibaki, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai and renowned Olympic, Boston and Chicago marathon medalist Catherine Ndereba.

Attractions and Places of Interest

Nyeri County offers numerous attractions. These include the Aberdare National Park that offers a rich diversity of wildlife, flora and fauna.

In addition to the national park, visitors to the county can also relish the Dedan Kimathi shrine in Muhoyas location in Tetu, the Lord Baden Powell Gardens and the Scout’s Information Center in the same venue.

The historic Italian War Memorial Church, the Mau Mau Caves in Narumoru forest and Solio Ranch and Game Sanctuary also make the line up of places of interest. Mountain climbers can enjoy tackling Mount Kenya from Nyeri using three distinct routes; Narumoru, Sirimon and Chogoria.

Travelling to Nyeri County

The county is easily accessible by road from Nairobi and other neighbouring towns. It takes about two hours to travel to Nyeri from Nairobi (150km), two hours from Nakuru (167km), 45 minutes from Nanyuki (60km) and one and a half hours from Nyahururu (100km).

There is no regular transport by air to Nyeri although there are two airstrips; one at Mweiga on the Nyeri-Nyahururu road and another at Nyaribo on the Nanyuki-Naromoru road about 15km from Nyeri town.

Accommodation

There are several world-class hotels and lodges offering catering and accommodation for both local and foreign visitors to the Nyeri County. These include the Outspan hotel, Greenhill’s hotel, Sangare Ranch Tented Camp, Aberdare Country Club, The Ark Lodge, Eland Hotel, Ibis and the world-famous Treetops Hotel among other large and small resorts.

Guest Information

Banks:

Nyeri County is serviced by several commercial banks including Equity, Barclays, Standard Chartered, National Bank, Family Bank, Cooperative, Kenya Commercial Bank and K-Rep Bank. There are several micro-finance institutions serving residents of Nyeri. These include Faulu Kenya, Kenya Women Finance Trust, Taifa Sacco and PesaPoint.

Shopping:

There are several supermarkets in Nyeri town, Karatina and Othaya. These include Uchumi Supermarket, Maathai, Kanini Keega and Samrat supermarkets. There are several curio shops along the Nairobi-Nyeri highway, and other roads leading to major tourist attraction sites. These shops mainly sell handicrafts such kiondo (handmade bags), kikoi (shawls), mats and wood/soap stone carvings.

About Kakamega County Kakamega, which is located in the former Western Province, is the second most populous county in Kenya after Nairobi with a population of about 1.7 million people. The 3,224.9 sq km-county borders Nandi and Uasin Gishu to the east, Busia to the west, Vihiga to the south, Bungoma to the north, Siaya to the south-west and Trans Nzoia to the north east. Kakamega was the scene of the gold rush of the late 1920s when the lure of golden wealth prompted British miners to establish a gold mining centre in Rosterman village. The deposits, however, could not sustain commercial mining and the mines were closed in 1930. Kakamega is renowned nationally for bullfighting events that are held annually in Ikolomani, Malinya and Sigalagala areas of the county. The events see trained bulls engaging in fierce battle as locals blow horns to advance the fights that last about 30 minutes. The owners of the champion bulls win cash prizes. Kakamega County Government Kakamega County is divided into 12 constituencies; namely Mumias East, Mumias West, Shinyalu, Khwisero, Ikolomani, Butere, Matungu, Navakholo, Lurambi, Malava, Likuyani and Lugari. These constituencies are represented in the National Assembly by the following members: Benjamin Washiali (MP-Mumias East), Johnson Naicca (MP-Mumias West), Silverse Anami (MP-Shinyalu), Benjamin Andayi (MP-Khwisero) and Benard Shinali (MP-Ikolomani). Other members of the National Assembly in the county include Andrew Anyanga (MP-Butere), David Were (MP-Matungu), Emmanuel Wangwe (MP-Navakholo), Raphael Otaalo (MP-Lurambi), Moses Injendi (MP-Malava), Enoch Kubunguchy (MP-Likuyani) and Ayub Savula (MP-Lugari). Other leaders in Kakamega County include Wycliffe Oparanyah (Governor), Albert Kobia (County Commissioner), Wycliffe Oparanyah (Senator) and Rachel Amolo (Women Representative). People of Kakamega County According to the 2009 National Census, Kakamega County has a population of 1,660,651 people (48% male and 52% female). The Luhya, a Bantu tribe residing in western Kenya, are the main residents of Kakamega County. The Luhya are the second most populous tribe after the Kikuyu tribe. They comprise about 14 per cent of the country's total population. The Luhya consist of 18 sub-tribes; Samia, Marachi, Bukusu, Kisa, Maragoli, Idakho, Banyala, Gisu, Tiriki, Wanga, Masaaba, Banyole, Isukha, Batsotso, Tachoni, Kabras, Marama and Khayo. Maragoli and Bukusu are the largest sub-tribes – each speaking a unique dialect of Kiluhya. Luhyas are mainly farmers – growing maize, beans, millet, cassava, wheat, sugar cane and other cash crops. Other ethnic groups of Kenya such as Luo, Kisii and Kikuyu are also present in Kakamega. Most of these people are in the county for business and employment, mainly with the government and private firms such as the Mumias Sugar Company. Religion and Culture A majority of Luhyas (about 90%) are Christians who believe in Nyasaye (The Almighty God) and ordinarily many Luhyas mix Christianity with features of traditional religion. For instance, adherents of Dini ya Msambwa, a popular religious sect in Kakamega, follow some biblical teachings while practising witchcraft. Other popular Christian denominations in Kakamega County include the Friends Church, Pentecostal Church, AIC, Baptist Church and the Roman Catholic Church. There is sizeable community of Muslims especially within Kakamega and Mumias towns. Traditionally, Luhya men were polygamous with men earning respect depending on the number of women they had married. This is because paying dowry for several wives required a man to be wealthy. Polygamy is quickly being abandoned due to the high cost of living and as an attempt to curb the spread of HIV/Aids. Male circumcision, which marks the transition from childhood to adulthood, is an important ritual among the Luhya community. Traditional circumcision ceremonies are held every August and December although some enlightened Luhyas prefer to circumcise their sons in hospitals. Luhyas are great fans of sports, especially football and traditional bullfighting. Most of Luhyas support the AFC (Abaluhya Football Club) Leopards football club, which was formed in the 1960s. AFC Leopards is one of the best football teams in the country. Ugali (obusuma), a meal made from maize flour, is the staple food of the Luhya. It is usually served with traditional vegetables such as murenda. During special occasions the meal is served with chicken. Major Towns in Kakamega County Kakamega: Located 415km from Nairobi and 52km from Kisumu, Kakamega town is the headquarters of Kakamega County and the capital of the former Western Province. The town was the scene of the gold rush of the late 1920s when British miners established a gold mining centre in the area. Kakamega hosts the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, which was created by an Act of Parliament in 2006. The university is named after Masinde Muliro, a popular politician who died in 1992. Mumias: Located 27km from Kakamega town, Mumias town was the seat of the Wanga Kingdom – the most developed kingdom in Kenyan history prior to the arrival of British colonialists. The town is named after Nabongo Mumia, who ruled the kingdom from 1882 to 1949. It is the base of Mumias Sugar Company. Climate Kakamega experiences a hot and wet climate throughout the year. Temperatures vary from a low of 10. 3°C to a high of 30.8°C with the average annual temperature standing at 20. 3°C. The county's annual rainfall ranges between 1250mm and 1750 mm. Most of the rains are experienced in May when an average of 274mm is recorded. January is the driest month with an average of 63mm. Economic Activities Agriculture is the main economic activity in Kakamega County. Large scale sugar farming, especially in the areas around Mumias, makes the county the headquarters of Kenya's largest sugar production company – Mumias Sugar Company. Small-scale farming is also practised widely in Kakamega with farmers growing maize, beans, millet, sunflower, soya beans, groundnuts, cassava and other crops. Kakamega residents are exploring emerging opportunities in fishing and dairy/beef farming. The county government has established a Sh80 million fish processing plant as part of its attempt to encourage fishing. Thanks to the rising population growth in the county's urban centres, the demand for milk and meat has risen exponentially. This has seen dairy and beef farmers earning some decent profits. Healthcare Kakamega has several healthcare facilities spread across the county to serve the local population. These include the Kakamega Provincial General Hospital, St. Mary's Hospital and Malava, Butere, Lumakanda and Iguhu district hospitals. Diarrhoea and Malaria are the prevalent diseases in the county whose doctor to population ratio currently stands at 1:14,246. The county government has set aside millions of shillings for the improvement of healthcare in the county, including expansion of existing facilities. Education In 2007, Kakamega County had 460 primary schools and 145 secondary schools with populations of 219,734 pupils and 18,320 students respectively according to data from the Ministry of Education. Some of the best performing secondary schools in the county include Kakamega High School, St. Peter's Mumias Boys High School, Musingu High School, Butere Boys High School, Butere Girls High School and Booker Academy among others. Institutions of higher learning in the county include Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology,Mount Kenya University, Kenyatta University, University of Nairobi and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). Others include the Kenya Medical Training College (MTC Kakamega), Kaimosi Teachers' College, Kakamega Teachers' Training College, Eregi Teachers' Training College, Kenya Institute of Management (KIM), Kenya Professional Studies and Alphax Group of Colleges. Places of Interest: Top tourist attractions in Kakamega County include Kakamega Forest and the 'Crying Stone' of Ilesi. The Kakamega Forest, which is located 20km east of Kakamega town in Shinyalu constituency, is a remnant of the remainder of the equatorial rainforest that once dominated the African continent. The 42 sq-km forest houses the Kisere and Kakamega national reserves. It supports a thriving population of wildlife including the continent's most combative cobra; the Kakamega forest cobra. With more than 400 species of birds, Kakamega forest is a paradise for birdwatchers. The 40-metres high 'Crying Stone' of Ilesi, an unusual rock formation situated 4km from Kakamega town along the Kakamega-Kisumu road, resembles a human being whose 'eyes' shed water. The rock sheds water even during the dry season and is regarded as a sacred site in the county. Famous people Kakamega County is home to several famous people including King Nabongo Mumia, Masinde Muliro and Joseph Martin Shikuku. Nabongo Mumia was the last king of the Wanga Kingdom, the most developed kingdom in Kenyan history prior to the arrival of British colonialists. He ruled for 67 years, from 1882 until his death in April 1949. Masinde Muliro was a renowned Kenyan politician and freedom fighter who campaigned against the single party ideology in the country during his later years. He collapsed and died in Nairobi on August 14, 1992. Martin Shikuku was a reputable fighter for the rights of the ordinary citizens. He was a member of the Kenyan delegation to Lancaster House conferences in which Kenya's independence was negotiated. Shikuku later became a long-serving MP for Butere constituency. He died in Nairobi on August 22, 2012. Transport Kakamega County is well linked by road to other major towns including Kisumu, Kitale and Nakuru. Kakamega town is connected to Kisumu by the Kakamega-Kisumu road. The town is accessible from Nairobi via Nakuru, Eldoret and Kapsabet towns. Kakamega has no airport and visitors planning to travel to the county by air must fly to Eldoret or Kisumu and travel to Kakamega by road. Accommodation Kakamega County offers several accommodation facilities for its visitors. Some of the top facilities in the county include the Kakamega Golf Hotel, Kakamega Guest House, Rondo Retreat Centre, Isukuti Guest House and Isecheno Blue Shouldered Guest House among others. Budget hotels and guest houses can also be found in Kakamega, Mumias and other neighbouring centres. Guest Information: Banking Kakamega is home to branches of several commercial banks including the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), Barclays Bank, Family Bank, Post Bank and Equity Bank. Shopping The Luhya have excellent weaving, pottery and carving skills. Their soapstone carvings, baskets, mats and furniture can be found on sale in curios shops around Kakamega and other parts of the county. The retail businesses in the populous county has flourished over the past few years with retailers such as Nakumatt, Tuskys, Yako and Khetia supermarkets being the key players in the Kakamega market.

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