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.
About West Pokot County West Pokot is a beautiful county that is home to several attractions such as the Nasolot Hills, Mount Mtelo, Kapenguria Museum and the Turkwel Gorge Hydroelectric Dam. The county that measures 9,169 sq km shares its boundaries with Baringo to the east, Trans Nzoia and Elgeyo Marakwet to the south, Turkana to the north and Uganda to the west. West Pokot is named after the Pokot ethnic group – the dominant community in the county. It is believed that the county has vast mineral resources such as titanium, coal, gold, rubies and gemstones. However these resources have not been exploited largely due to insecurity posed by heavily armed bandits. The county is infamous for cattle rustlers and armed bandits who frequently interrupt the daily activities of the area residents. Cattle rustling, a dangerous affair that often results in fatalities, is rampant among the Pokot and their Turkana neighbours. West Pokot County Government West Pokot County is made up of four constituencies, namely; Pokot South, Kacheliba, Sigor and Kapenguria. The county's members of the National Assembly include David Losiakou (MP-Pokot South), Mark Lomunokol (MP-Kacheliba), Philip Lotiolo (MP-Sigor), and Samuel Moroto (MP-Kapenguria). Other top leaders in the county include Simon Kitalei (Governor), Peter Okwanyo (County Commissioner), John Lonyang'apuo (Senator) and Regina Changorok (Women Representative). People of West Pokot County West Pokot County is home to 512,690 people (Male – 50 % and Female – 50%). A majority of the people living in the county are from the Pokot ethnic group, which is a part of the Kalenjin tribe. The Pokot are classified into two sub-tribes; the Plains Pokot and the Hills Pokot. The Plains Pokot live in the dry and arid plains of the county and are pastoralists who depend on cattle, sheep and goats for their livelihood. The Hill Pokot live in the fertile rainy highlands and are both farmers and livestock keepers. The farmers mainly grow maize, beans and vegetables – which are used to feed their families with the surplus being sold to the markets within the county. Religion and Culture The majority of Pokots still adhere to their African traditional religion, with about 15 per cent of the community being Christians and less than 1 per cent being Muslims. The Pokot greatly fear death and as a result much of their religious rituals are performed to fight diseases or to administer remedies. Traditionally the Pokot man is polygamous, living in a homestead with wives – each having her own house. The man is the head of the homestead and supervisor of the work of his wives and children. Major Town in West Pokot County Kapenguria, a small town located about 27km north-east of Kitale, is the headquarters of West Pokot County. The town is famous as the site where Kenya's first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and five other founding fathers of the nation were detained in 1953 during the struggle for independence. Kapenguria is the home of Tegla Loroupe, a globally renown Kenyan athlete who holds world records in 20,000-metre, 25,000-metre and 30,000-metre races. Climate West Pokot County enjoys a moderate climate with rainfall ranging from 400mm in the plains to 1500mm in the highlands per year. Temperatures in the county range between 10 °C and 30 °C. Economic Activities Agriculture is the main economic activity in West Pokot County. Livestock, mainly cattle, goats and sheep, is a major source of revenue for the residents of West Pokot. Milk produced in the county is sold to processors such as Brookside Dairies, while animals are mainly sold to the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC). Crop farming is also widely practised in the highlands of West Pokot where maize, beans, potatoes,millet, vegetables, and mangoes are grown on small-scale. The crops are consumed at the family level with the surplus being sold to supplement incomes from livestock. The southern region of the county produces what is easily the highest quality pyrethrum in Kenya. However, the area has remained unexploited due to the many years of mismanagement of the pyrethrum sector. The West Pokot Government has tipped silk worm farming, organic farming (which employs drip-irrigation technology from Israel) and bee keeping (for honey production) as 'the next big thing' for the county – with the potential to become multi-billion shilling enterprises. Healthcare West Pokot County has few healthcare facilities, most of which are not well equipped. The most common diseases in the county are diarrhoea, malaria and respiratory tract infections. Kapenguria District Hospital is the only notable medical facility in the county whose doctor to population ration stands at 1:84,528. Education According to statistics from the Ministry of Education, in 2007 West Pokot County had 318 primary schools and 34 secondary schools with a population of 105, 452 pupils and 9,897 students respectively. Some of the notable schools in West Pokot include Wei Wei Boys Secondary School, Kapenguria Boys High School, Ortum Secondary, Chewoyet High School and Karenger Boys Secondary School among others. Institutions of higher learning in West Pokot County include the Kapenguria Institute Training Centre, Kitale Technical Institute (Kapenguria Campus) and Mercy Vocational Training Centre. Places of Interest Top attractions in West Pokot County include Kapenguria Museum, Saiwa Swamp National Park, Mount Mtelo, Nasolot Game Reserve and Turkwel Gorge Hydroelectric Dam. The Kapenguria Museum, which was established in 1993, is located at the site where Jomo Kenyatta, Achieng Oneko, Bildad Kaggia, Kung'u Karumba, Paul Ngei and Fred Kubai were incarcerated in 1953 during the struggle for Kenya's independence. The museum holds artefacts of the Pokot people and books that documents the liberation struggle in honour of all the heroes of independence. Situated near Kitale, Saiwa Swamp National Park is Kenya's smallest national park, covering 3sq km. It was established as a haven for Sitatunga – a scarce water antelope. The 10,944 feet Mount Mtelo, located in the north-west highlands of West Pokot, is Kenya's fifth highest mountain. It is a habitat for many animals species including rare antelope and colobus monkey. Nasolot Game Reserve, located 145km north of kitale, is home to the world's biggest elephants. At the edge of the reserve is the Nasolot Hill, a major attraction and game viewing site. The reserve is home to elephant, lion, leopard, buffallo, hippo, lesser kudu among other animal species. Turkwel Gorge Hydroelectric Dam, a 35 km-long artificial lake, is one of Kenya's biggest hydro-electric power stations. It has the capacity of 106MW which is connected to the national grid. Famous people Famous people in West Pokot County include Tegla Loroupe and Francis Lotodo. Loroupe is a globally renown Kenyan athlete who holds world records in 20,000-metre, 25,000-metre and 30,000-metre races. The late Francis Lotodo was a colourful Kenyan politicians who served as a cabinet minister in the Moi government. Lotodo represented Kacheliba constituency in the National Assembly. He died in 2000. Transport West Pokot County is connected to Kitale, Eldoret, Kisumu and other neighbouring towns by the Kitale-Lodwar road. Access to the county from these towns to the county is usually via Kapenguria town which links to other urban centres. The road journey from Kapenguria to Lodwar requires armed police escort as the area is prone to bandit attacks. The county has airstrips at Kaputirr and Turkwell Gorge which serve light chartered aeroplanes from the Wilson Airport in Nairobi. Accommodation Some of the top accommodation facilities in West Pokot include Samtowo Hotel, Salama Hotel, Elgonnia Springs Hotel, New Savanna Inn, KVDA Guest House and Chesta Guest House. Budget accommodation facilities here include Kalya Hotel, T.S. Lodge, Lomut Cultural Village and Mtelo View Campsite. Guest Information: Banking West Pokot is served by Equity Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and Barclays Bank. Mobile money transfer services such as Mpesa are readily available in most parts of the county. Shopping Pokot people have a rich cultural heritage that is defined by their colourful ornaments such as bracelets and earrings – which are available for sale around Kapenguria. Wespo and Kapchemutwa supermarkets in Kapenguria are among the few shopping facilities in West Pokot.
TOP of the Nyeri County