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