Overview of Kericho County
Marsabit County, set in the former Eastern Province and some 550km north of Nairobi is the largest county in Kenya covering 70, 961 square kilometres.
Marsabit borders three counties; Wajir to the east, Turkana to the west and Isiolo to the south.
It also borders the country of Ethiopia to the north.
The county is said to have been named after a Burji farmer called Marsa who was brought to Marsabit (from Ethiopia) by colonialists to teach the locals how to grow crops.
When his name was called out by his masters, Marsa used to answer "Abet" (Yes in Amharic) and this led to the creation of the name Marsa-Abeit - which later became Marsabit.
Marsabit County Government
Marsabit County constitutes four constituencies: North Horr, Laisamis, Saku and Moyale. The county's top leaders are Mr Ukur Yatani Kanacho (Governor), Mr Isaiah Nakoru (County Commissioner), Godana Hargura (Senator) and Ms Nasra Ibrahim Ibren (Women Representative).
Other top leaders in Marsabit County include Francis Chachu Ganya (MP-North Horr), Joseph Lekuton (MP-Laisamis), Dido Ali Raso (MP-Saku) and Roba Sharu Duba (MP-Moyale).
People of Marsabit County
Marsabit County is home to 291,166 people (male - 52% and female - 48%), according to the 2009 National Census. The county is populated by various ethnic communities including the Cushitic Rendille, Gabbra and Borana as well as the Nilotic Samburu and Turkana.
Rendille are nomadic pastoralists who mainly live with their camels in the Kaisut Desert. The community greatly values the camel as it is their main source of food – meat and a mixture of milk and blood.
Borana are also nomadic pastoralists living in Saku, Waso and Moyale. They keep cattle and camels, although recently some Borana's living in areas around Mount Marsabit and Kulal have taken up farming. Crops grown in the area include maize, millet, tomatoes, kales and potatoes.
Gabbra, the lions of the desert, mainly live in the Chalbi desert - between Marsabit and Lake Turkana. They keep camels, cattle, goats and sheep although the camel is the most essential to their economy. The Gabbra are the most educated among the ethnic groups of Marsabit.
The Turkana mainly rear goats and donkeys and are usually found in Loiyangalani. On the other hand, Samburu are semi-nomadic pastoralists who mainly keep cattle and goats. They are found in Laisamis, Karare and Korr.
Religion and Culture
Close to 40% of the people living in Marsabit County are Christians, 32% are Muslims, while 28% adhere to other religions.
Among the ethnic groups, men are traditionally responsible for taking care of animals, while women are tasked with taking care of their children and performing day-to-day chores in the home. They are also responsible for the construction (weaving) of portable grass huts for their families.
Boys usually accompany their fathers to the grazing fields, while girls are supposed to help their mothers at home mainly by gathering firewood and fetching water.
Over the years, the communities have adopted elements of the modern world such as formal schooling and employment. About 40,000 students are currently enrolled in the county's 126 primary schools, with another 1,100 attending high schools.
Major Towns in Marsabit County
Marsabit town is the headquarters of Marsabit County. The town, which is set on an extinct volcano - Mount Marsabit - aids the movement of goods between Isiolo and Moyale. It is home to Gabbra, Rendille, Turkana, Samburu, Borana and Burji among other communities.
Located on the border of Kenya and Ethiopia, Moyale is basically two towns in one; the smaller Kenyan Moyale and the bigger Ethiopian Moyale - with the main border running between them. Thanks to its strategic location, Moyale has a vibrant regional livestock market and a flourishing trade market.
Situated on the south-eastern coast of Lake Turkana, near Mount Kulal, Loiyangalani town hosts about 1000 people, mainly Samburu, El Molo and Rendille. It is also home to a growing number of Turkana fishermen who engage in small-scale fishing on the shores of Lake Turkana.
Loiyangalani is fast becoming a popular tourist destination in northern Kenya, thanks to the colourful cultural experiences offered by the communities living in the area.
Climate and Weather
Marsabit is one of the driest counties of Kenya, with temperatures ranging between 10.1° C during the cold months (June and July) and 30.2° C during the hot months (January-March and September-October).
Marsabit receives between 200mm and 1000mm of rainfall per year, with the average precipitation being 254mm. This makes it one of Kenya's driest counties. Most of the rainfall (rainy season) is received in April and November.
About 80% of the people of Marsabit County are nomadic pastoralists, 10% are small scale farmers and about 7% are business people, with the rest being salaried employees mainly working with the government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Some of the NGOs providing employment opportunities in the county include the World Food Programme (WFP), Action Aid, World Vision and the Kenya Red Cross.
Other economic activities in the county include salt mining, gemstones mining, sand harvesting and fishing. Recently, Marsabit has attracted several international oil companies hoping to strike the lucrative commodity in the area.
British oil company Tullow Oil Plc and Canadian Africa Oil Corp are currently drilling wells in Marsabit County, following the discovery of oil in the neighbouring Turkana County in May 2012.
There are several hospitals and health centres in Marsabit County's major urban centres. Notable healthcare facilities in the county include the Marsabit District Hospital, Moyale District Hospital, Laisamis Health Center and AIC Gatab Hospital in Loiyangalani. These facilities are moderately equipped to provide health services that may be required.
Education in Marsabit County
As of 2013, there are 126 primary schools and 16 high schools in Marsabit County, serving 40,332 and 1,101 students respectively. The county's Teacher to Pupil Ratio is 1: 54 for public primary schools and 1:30 for public high schools.
Some of the top high schools in Marsabit include St. Paul Secondary School, Bishop Cavallera Girls Secondary School, Dr. Godana Memorial Boys Secondary School and Marsabit Boy's High School among others.
Attractions and Places of Interest
Despite being a semi-arid region, Marsabit County is endowed with several tourist attractions. These include Marsabit National Park, Lake Paradise, Chalbi desert, Lake Turkana, Desert Museum, Sibiloi National Park, among others.
Sitting on 1,554 square km, Marsabit National Park comprises a forested mountain and three impressive crater lakes that provide a habitat to a huge population of animals such as buffalo, elephants, giraffe, zebra, leopard and lion. The park also hosts numerous species of birds.
Travelling to Marsabit County
From Nairobi, Marsabit County is accessed via Nanyuki and Isiolo - a 550km journey that is usually covered in two days due to the bad condition of the road. The 122 km road section between Merille River and Marsabit town is quite rough and is only tackled by 4 by 4 vehicles during the dry season.
There is a bus (Liban Express) that plies the 200km Isiolo-Marsabit route on a daily basis. The bus leaves Isiolo for Marsabit at 8pm arriving at dawn due to the bad condition of the road. For the return leg, the bus leaves Marsabit at 8am arriving in Isiolo at around 2pm.
Marsabit County can also be reached by road from Mombasa via Nairobi, Nanyuki and Isiolo, although the 1,025km journey can be really tiresome.
Marsabit is also accessible by air, with two airstrips - Marsabit Airstrip and Segel Airstip servicing charter aircraft. The Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is the only organisation offering regular flights from Nairobi (Wilson Airport) to Marsabit every Tuesday and Friday. The flight takes up to an hour depending on the weather.
From Mombasa, travellers can take a flight to Nairobi at the Moi International Airport. Incase the flight is destined for the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), travellers can take a taxi from JKIA to Wilson Airport, a 20-40 minutes drive depending on traffic.
Marsabit National Park offers some of the best accommodation in the county. Marsabit Lodge situated within the park is a popular choice for many travellers. Other accommodation options include Ahmed and Abdul camp-sites near the national park, Al-Yusra Hotel and Hotel Abreham both in Moyale.
Travellers heading to Marsabit can also find accommodation at the Samburu Intrepids Tented Camp in Archer’s Post, about 200km from Marsabit town.
Marsabit town has two commercial banks; Equity Bank and the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB). Equity Bank is also present in Moyale and the bank recently opened an agency in Loiyangalani. There is a KCB ATM in the Moyale town.
There are many small markets and shops around the major towns in Marsabit County. Handicrafts from the Borana and other communities are some of the items on sale in the markets.About Kericho County Kericho County is renowned worldwide as the home of Kenya's best tea, which is grown in large plantations and exported mainly to Egypt and the United Kingdom. The 2,479km-county is located in south western Kenya and borders Nakuru to the east and south east, Kisumu to the west and north-west, Bomet to the south, Nandi to the north, Baringo and Uasin Gishu to the north-east, and Homa Bay and Nyamira to the south-east. The county is named after Kericho town, whose name is coined from the word 'kerichek' which means medicine in the local Kipsigis language. It is said that the town hosted the county's first medical facility that was build by colonial settlers in the early 20th century. Kericho County is home to the 400,000-hectare Mau Forest Complex, the biggest closed-canopy forest ecosystem and water catchment in Kenya. Kericho County Government Kericho County is made up of six constituencies; Sigowet, Belgut, Bureti, Ainamoi, Kipkelion West and Kipkelion East. The constituencies are represented in the National Assembly by Kipsang Kemei (MP-Sigowet), Eric Keter (MP- Belgut), Leonard Sang (MP-Bureti), Benjamin Langat (MP-Ainamoi), Jackson Kipkorir (MP-Kipkelion West) and Joseph Limo (MP-Kipkelion East). Other top leaders in Kericho County include Paul Chepkwony (Governor), Rashid Mohammed (County Commissioner), Charles Keter (Senator) and Hellen Chepkwony (Women Representative). People of Kericho County According to the 2009 National Census, Kericho County has a population of 758,339 people (male – 50% and female – 50%). The Kipsigis, the most populous sub-group of the Kalenjin tribe, are the dominant community living in the county. Kipsigis are famous for their athletic skills that have seen them produce some of the world's top athletes such as Kipchoge Keino – a veteran long distance runner who won Olympic gold medals in 1965 and 1972. Kipsigis practice mixed farming, where a farmer grows crops and keeps livestock. They mainly keep dairy animals to produce milk for home consumption and sale to firms such as the Kenya Cooperative Creameries and Brookside Dairies. Maize and tea are important crops for the Kipsigis. Maize is usually grown on small plots in the lowlands while tea is grown on large scale in the higher grounds where the soil and climate are favourable. Religion and Culture Christianity is the dominant religion among residents of Kericho, with the African Gospel Church – affiliated to the US-based World Gospel Mission – being the most popular place of worship in the county. The Roman Catholic, ACK, AIC and SDA are also present in Kericho County. Kericho hosts Africa's biggest Gurudwara (Sikh place of Worship), a monument gazetted by the Government of Kenya as a significant place of worship. There are at least two mosques in Kericho serving the county's Muslim population. Traditionally, Kipsigis men were responsible for building houses, hunting, providing veterinary care for their livestock and ploughing land with oxen. On the other hand women were responsible for cooking, fetching firewood and water and looking after their children. Kipsigis boys are usually circumcised at the age of 13 years to mark their transition from boyhood to manhood. This allows them to join the community's group of warriors. The Kipsigis traditionally practised female circumcision but the custom is quickly dying away as most members of the community have adopted the Christian faith that is opposed to the ritual. Kimyet, a meal made of maize flour, is the staple food for the Kipsigis. The meal is mainly served with traditional; vegetables and kales – accompanied with a traditional yoghurt known as mursik. Major Towns in Kericho County Kericho: Located about 260km from Nairobi, Kericho town is the headquarters of Kericho County. Kericho is an important centre for Kenya's tea sector as the county's best quality tea is grown in the nearby areas. Several tea multinationals including James Finlay, Williamson Tea and Unilever having established factories in Kericho. Much of the tea produced here is exported to Egypt and the United Kingdom. Litein: Situated about 30km from Kericho along the Kericho-Sotik road, Litein is a small town that serves as the headquarters of Bureti District. The town is home to several commercial colleges and a tea factory. Climate Kericho experiences a warm and temperate climate. The county records significant rainfall throughout the year, with average annual rainfall standing at 1735mm. Much of the rainfall is recorded in April (average of 256mm) and January receives the least amount of rainfall at 71mm. February is the warmest month in Kericho County with the average temperature being 19.1 °C, while July records the lowest annual average temperature at 17 °C. Economic Activities Kericho County has an agricultural-based economy. Tea farming and processing, food crop farming, horticulture and daily farming are major income earners for the residents of the county. Food crops; maize, millet, beans, potatoes and vegetables are mainly grown in the lowlands of the county, while the higher elevations are the tea growing zones. Coffee is also becoming a major cash crop for the Kericho County residents with over 1500 hectares of land currently under coffee in Kipkelion constituency. Tea produced in the county is sold to large tea companies that are based in Kericho, including Williamson Tea, Unilever Kenya Tea and James Finlays Tea. Kericho tea is ranked among the world's best tea in terms of colour and flavour. Flower farming is also a major economic activity in Kericho. Finlays Flowers Ltd has over 10,000 hectares of flowers in Bureti and Kericho districts. The company also grows eucalyptus trees and tea to supplement its income from horticulture. Much of the flowers produced in the county are exported to the United Kingdom. Health Kericho County has several adequately equipped medical facilities serving its residents. These include the Kericho District Hospital (whose modern casualty wing was built in 2012 by China), Litein Mission Hospital, Kapkatet District Hospital, James Finlays' Chemogodany Hospital and Unilever's Central Hospital. Other notable medical facilities in Kericho include Londiani and Sigowett district hospitals, Siloam Hospital and the Green View Nursing Home. The county's doctor to population ratio is 1:15,000. Education As of 2007, Kericho County had 461 primary schools and 106 secondary schools with populations of 163,133 pupils and 30,375 students respectively. Some of the best performing secondary schools in the county include Moi Tea Girls Secondary School, Kabianga High School, Kipsigis Girls High School and Letein High School among others. Kericho is home to several institutions of higher learning including the University of Kabianga, Kabarak University, Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC-Kericho), Kenya Highlands Bible College, Kenya Institute of Management (KIM), Kericho Technical institute and Kenya Forestry College among others. Places of Interest: Top tourist attractions in Kericho County include Mau Forest Complex, Chagaik Botanic Garden and Chebown Monkey Sanctuary. Mau Forest Complex is Kenya's largest water catchment area covering more than 400,000 hectares. The forest acts as a natural water tower for the country – supporting over 10 million people and huge populations of wildlife. It is the source of Njoro, Mara, Ewaso Ng'iro and Sondu rivers among others. Chagaik Botanic Garden, situated about 10km from Kericho on the Kericho-Nakuru Highway, is a scenic site that comprises abundant green grass and various endemic tree species enclosed by well-tended tea estates. It is ideal for picnics and family outings. Chebown Monkey Sanctuary, established on the Kericho Chebown estate, is haven for several species of monkeys including the endangered colobus monkey and the vervet. Famous people Famous people born in Kericho County include Joginder Singh, Joyce Chepchumba and Dr. Taitta Towett. Joginder Singh was one of Kenya's most honoured rally drivers who won many accolades in the 1960s and 1970s. He was born in Kericho and died of heart failure in London on October 20, 2013. Joyce Chepchumba is a famous woman athlete and an Olympic medallist who hails from Kericho. Dr. Taitta Towett was an influential politician during the Kenyatta and Moi governments. Dr. Towett served as Kenya's first African Minister for Education. He died in 2007 in a car accident. Other notable people in the county include Hannington Apudo – Kenya's first indigenous military pilot; Moses Keino, a former Speaker of the National Assembly; and politicians Jonathan Ngeno, Franklin Bett, Noah arap Too and Kipngeno arap Ngeny. Transport Kericho County has a relatively good transport infrastructure. The county is serviced by three highways that link Kericho town to Kisumu, Kisii and Nakuru. These include the Kisumu-Kericho, Kisii-Kericho and Nakuru-Kericho highways. The town is also accessible through the Nakuru-Njoro-Molo-Kericho road. Kericho County's main airstrip, Kerenga Aerodrome, is located 5km from Kericho town and it serves chartered light air planes from the Nairobi Wilson Airport. Accommodation Kericho has plenty of accommodation facilities for visitors to the county. These include the Kericho Tea Hotel, Kericho Guest House, ITC Guest House, the Exotic Guest House and many others. Budget guest houses and hotels can be found in Kericho and Litein towns as well as other urban centres within the county. Guest Information: Banking Kericho is an important commercial hub for the Rift Valley region. Many local commercial banks have established branches within the county as part of efforts to tap into the regional economic growth. These include Barclays Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), Equity Bank, Cooperative Bank, Family Bank, National Bank, Stanchart, Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) and K-Rep Bank. Shopping The retail business in Kericho County has grown tremendously over the past decade due to the population growth and the presence of many large companies that offer employment to the county residents. National retailers Uchumi, Tuskys and Ukwala, and local retailer Chai Supermarket are some of the major shopping facilities in the county.
TOP of the Marsabit County