Overview of Tharaka Nithi County
Tharaka Nithi County is found in the semi arid area of the Eastern region of Kenya, approximately 175 kilometers north east of Nairobi.
It lies on the foothills of Mount Kenya and is one of the smallest counties in Kenya, covering approximately 2,638.8 square kilometers.
Tharaka Nithi borders Meru County to the North, Kitui County to the East and South East and Embu County to the South.
The name Tharaka Nithi is known to represent the two sub-dialects of the Ameru people who live in the eastern slopes of mount Kenya.
Tharaka Nithi County Government
Tharaka Nithi County has three constituencies: Maara, Chuka/Igambang’ombe and Tharaka.
The country leadership is headed by Samuel Mbae Ragwa (Governor), Kithure Kindiki (Senator) and Beatrice Nyaga (Women representative). Other top leaders include Japhet Mbiuki (MP-Maara), Onesmus Njuki (MP-Chuka/Igambang’ombe) and Alex Mwiru (MP-Tharaka).
The traditional Meru council of elders; the Njuuri Ncheke also makes key deliberations on governance and justice in the county.
According to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics the county has a total population of 356,330 people (male - 48% and female -52%). Majority of the residents comprise the larger Ameru community namely Tharaka, Mwimbi, Muthambi and Chuka - all of whom speak the meru ethnic language, as well as Swahili and/or English. Other tribes found in small numbers include the Kikuyu, Kamba, Embu, Borana, Somali among other ethnic groups of Kenya.
Religion and Traditional Culture
Over 80% of people living in Tharaka Nithi County are Christians. Notable among Christian faith is the Methodist, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian and Anglican denominations.
Culturally, Tharaka people are a sub group of the larger Ameru tribe. They speak the Kitharaka sub dialect of Meru language. They believed in one supernatural being; Murungu. The Tharaka and Chuka people who live here are descendants of their ancestral father; Ciambugi, and his two wives; Ciabandi and Ciangoi. The wives split and Ciabandi moved east and bore the Tharaka people while Ciangoi is believed to be the mother of the Chuka.
Located on the Eastern slopes of the towering Mount Kenya and 70 kilometers from Meru town is Chuka town. The town is mostly an agricultural and business centre hosting several institutions such as Egerton University Chuka campus, Nithi Institute of Technology and Presbyterian Teachers College - Rubate. It also acts as the gateway to the Mount Kenya National park and is home to the famous Chuka drummers and dancers troupe.
Along the Meru-Embu road is Chogoria town, which is largely an agricultural and trading hub. The Transit Hotel mostly used by mountain climbers and Chogoria climbing route are found here.
Other major towns in the county are divisional Townships among them Marimanti, Chiakariga, Gatunga and Tunyai.
Climate and Weather
Tharaka Nithi County lies on a semi arid area. The rainfall averages between 200mm and 800mm annually with its temperature ranging between 11°C to 25.9°C during cold and hot seasons respectively.
Although Tharaka Nithi County lies in the semi arid area of the larger Meru region, agriculture is the major economic activity for locals. There is small scale production of different crops including millet, sorghum, cowpeas, maize, cassava and vegetables. The county also relies on tea, coffee and horticulture for income. There is commercial trout fish farming sponsored by the Tharaka Fisheries initiative. The fish is reared in river Nithi Thuci and Mutonga.
Tharaka Nithi is also known for the community power generation scheme located at the Kamanyaki Great Falls Dam. This dam also supports irrigation in some areas of the county. Tharaka Nithi fruit farmers also rely on processing of herbal medicine in the Meru Herbs Plant located along the Chokariga-Nkubu Road. The plant has brought in over 100 million shillings to farmers since 2009.
Tharaka Nithi County has a significant health facilities network. Notable among them are the over 88 government run health facilities: Sub-District Hospitals, Dispensaries, Health Centers, Medical Clinics and other private facilities. Among the big hospitals is the Tharaka District Hospital, Magutuni Hospital, PCEA Chogoria hospital and Chuka District hospital. The Clive School of Nursing is also found here.
As of 2013, the county had 168 Primary and 24 Secondary schools. The average Teacher to Pupil Ratio for public schools is 1:25. Some of the leading secondary schools include Chuka Boys High, Chuka Girls High School, Ikuu Boys High School and Chogoria Boys High School. Instiutions of higher learning include Chuka University College.
Some of the famous people who hail from Tharaka Nithi County are senior servants and politicians among them; Francis Kagwima, Petkay Miriti and Murage Thungutha. Others are University don Prof Kithaka wa Mberia, Mastermind Tobacco CEO Wilfred Murungi, Chuka University College principal Prof Erastus Njoka, National Cohesion And Integration Commission boss Mzalendo Kibunja, Justice Gilbert Mutembei and former PS Godfrey Mati.
Attractions and Places of Interest
Tharaka Nithi County has some attractions sites worth a visit. Visitors can enjoy sampling rare game species in Mutejwa National Reserve. The reserve is hosts several wildlife species including rare gazelles, monkeys, ostriches and hundreds of birds in the forest that lines up along the Nithi River. Mount Kenya National Park offers untouched wilderness, exquisite scenery, mineral springs and endangered wildlife species for those who love camping, game viewing, bird watching, cave exploration and mountain climbing.
Travelling to Tharaka Nithi County
The main mode of transport to Tharaka Nithi County is by road using Matatus, buses, private vehicles and motor bikes. There is no railroad or air transport. The county is easily accessible by road from Nairobi and other neighbouring towns. It takes three hours to travel to Chuka from Nairobi. Two hours from Embu to Chogoria, four hours from Nyeri to Chuka town, 45 minutes from Meru town to Chuka and at least one hour from Nanyuki to major towns of Tharaka Nithi County.
The recently re-carpeted Kathegeri-Chuka-Chogoria-Meru road is a delight to drive on and the ongoing revamping of the Ishiara-Kathwana-Marimati road is expected to ease travel to the county.
A few standard hotels offer accommodation to both local and foreign visitors to this county among them Godka Hotel in Chuka town, the Kimwa Farmers Hotel, The Joywood Hotel Marima and the Transit Hotel in Chogoria.
Tharaka Nithi County is serviced by several commercial banks including KCB, Barclays Bank, Equity, Cooperative bank and NIC bank among others.
Visitors and locals will find the Isiolo Nyika Supermarket in Chuka and the Kimwa Farmers supermarkets ideal for various goods. Other shopping facilities include wholesale and retail outlets spread in urban towns across the county.
TOP of the Tharaka Nithi County