Isiolo County


Education is very critical for economic development. This section gives information on facilities and enrolment, teacher to pupil/student ratios, transition rates, completion rates and retention rates for both pre-school education, primary education and secondary education.
Literacy is the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about the written word. It involves, at all levels, the ability to use and communicate in a diverse range of technologies. Isiolo County still has a high rate of illiteracy with 20% of the population not having gone to school. Less than 10% had reached post-secondary level with majority only having gone to primary school. Drop outs were seen to be one of the major factors for this with reasons such as lack of school fees and early marriage being cited

Pre- School Education (Early Childhood Development Education)
There are 160 ECDE centres of which 42 are private. 2017 total enrolment is 16,295 with 9,102 being boys and 7,193 girls. The teacher pupil ratio in the ECD centres is 1:87. This ratio is far above the optimal of 1:40 implying that the county is running short of ECD teachers. Dropout rate is nil which means that all the pupils transit to primary schools.

Currently less than five years age group population is estimated at 25,662 and 90 percent of them are supposed to be attending ECD centres but because of drought and indaquate ECDE infrastructures and pastoralism this is not the case. This calls for rapid infrastructure development, increase teaching manpower in ECD centres to accommodate this high number. Others include introduction of school feeding programmes to improve enrolment levels such as
reintroduction of mid-morning snack (porridge) and lunch.

Primary Education
The county has 125 primary schools of which 108 are public and 17 are private. There are 33,008 pupils enrolled in primary schools but these figures keep changing cause of drop outs due to effects of culture and climate related issues such as drought. There are a total of 624 primary school teachers and this implies that the teacher/pupil ratio is 1:37. The dropout rate is one percent implying that most pupils are transiting to secondary schools. However, 74 percent of pupils walk/travel for over five km to reach the nearest public primary school. The current projection of primary school going children population is 35,989. This implies that over 37 percent of the children who are supposed to be in primary school are out of school due to pastoralism, early marriages and insecurity. There is therefore urgent need to come up with strategies that will keep children in school.
Non-formal Education
Non-formal education has not been formally rolled out in Isiolo. However, there is great need for the adoption of the same in order to provide education for children who miss out school early in life. These include the children in the streets, children with disabilities and young mothers among others. The objectives of this are:

  1. To develop literacy, numeracy, creativity and communication skills
  2. To enjoy learning and to develop desire to continue learning
  3. To develop ability for critical thinking and logical judgment
  4. To appreciate and respect the dignity of work
  5. To develop desirable social standards, moral/ethical and religious values
  6. To develop into self-disciplined, physically fit and healthy persons
  7. To develop aesthetic values and capacity to appreciate own and other people‟s cultures and to develop awareness and appreciation of the environment to this group.

Youth polytechnics
There are two operational youth polytechnics in the county namely St. Joseph Polytechnic which is privately owned and Uhuru Youth Polytechnic. With respect to post-secondary education, the county has built one youth polytechnic in Merti Sub-County but still the polytechnic is not operational.
Secondary Education
The county has 25 secondary schools as per 2016 Kenya National Bureau Statistics (KNBS) data, of which 17 are public and 8 are private. Only six are boarding schools and the rest are day schools. The total enrolment for 2016 is 5,397 students (2,988 males and 2,409 females.) Teacher population in secondary schools stands at 236 with a teacher/student ratio of 1:23 an improvement from 2013 when the number of teachers stood at 61 and teacher-student ration of 1:30. However, still a great number of students‟ have to walk/travel for 5 km and above to reach the nearest secondary school.
Tertiary Education
There are three tertiary institutions in the county. These are Kenya Medical Training College, St. Marys Secretarial College, and Isiolo ECD Training centre. There is one extra mural centre for Nairobi University in Isiolo town offering diploma courses. More tertiary institutions need to be constructed across the county to tap the growing local demand by the Isiolo youth.

Adult and continuing Education
There are 55 adult literacy classes in the entire county with an enrolment of only 3,073 students in by 2015/2016 out of which 657 were males and were 2,416 are females. This represents an improvement in overall enrolment from 2013/14 where the total enrolment stood at 1595 (342 males and 1253 females). There is therefore a dire need to increase the number of adult literacy classes in the entire county and undertake campaigns to influence enrolment.

Technical, Vocational Education and Training
The county has 2 vocational training centres, namely Uhuru in Isiolo and Merti in Merti Sub-County. The latter is not yet operational. This means fewer youth acquire technical and crafts skills within the county. There is need for the establishment of more vocational training centres in the county but also very important to address the enrolment challenges due to negative perceptions on technical, vocational education and training.

Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation

Main crops produced
A large portion of the county is arid and cannot support rain fed crop farming. However, irrigation farming is practiced along Ewaso Ngiro River, Isiolo central and Kinna. The crops produced include maize, sorghum, beans, green grams, nerica rice, cowpeas, dolicos, kales, tomatoes, onions and watermelons. The fruit trees grown include pawpaw, avocados, citrus, mangoes and guavas. They are usually grown together with crops for subsistence and commercial purposes. They act as wind breaks and improve on soil fertility.

Acreage under food and cash crops
Agriculture is both rain fed and irrigated, the hectares under food crops is small. There are only 1,500 hectares under food crops production. However, the area under food and cash crops is expected to increase by 2,000 hectares once Kilimani –Game Galana, Gafarsa, Malkadaka and Rapsu, irrigations schemes are rehabilitated.

Main livestock breeds and facilities
The backbone of the county‟s economy is livestock sub-sector. Over 80 percent of the inhabitants rely on livestock for their livelihoods. Nomadic pastoralism is prominent in the county and defines the lifestyle of most of the county‟s inhabitants. It has had a negative impact on the environment due to the tendency of overgrazing caused by overstocking. Intensive dairy production is less prominent economic activity in the county but lately gaining importance
as a business with increasing urban demand.

Health Services

Health Access
The County health system is largely affected by competing challenges not meeting the standard number in any of the orientation area as per the health systems building blocks. Specifically, the indigenous cultural practices encourage high birth orders, early marriage, teenage pregnancy, cultural barriers like female-genital mutilation; have contributed to the high maternal and neonatal mortality. Over 68 percent of people in the county live in the rural areas where health facilities are inadequate, sparsely distributed and understaffed. There are two tier 3 health facilities (Isiolo and Garbatulla hospitals), 51 tier 2 health facilities and 36 established Community Health Units (Tier 1). Most of the primary health care facilities lack adequate personnel and health commodities. For example, Garbatulla level two health facility has no doctor. The doctor: population ratio for the county is about 1:5000, nurse: population ratio 1:1500. Table 13 and 14 below shows health facilities and their distribution by sub county and health work force.

Nutritional Status
Levels of acute malnutrition remain a serious public health concern in Isiolo County. One (1) out of 5 children are wasted translating to approximately 9,327 children. Moreover, Standardized Monitoring and Assessment in Relief and Transitions (SMART) survey further revealed that 1 in 10 women (7.1%) are malnourished. Stunting also remains high with 19.1% of children less than five years in Isiolo County being stunted compared to the national average of 26% according to results of Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) 2014. Recent Knowledge, Attitude, Beliefs and Practices (KABP) survey conducted in 2017 show that exclusive breastfeeding is high 74.2%, however complementary feeding practices remains suboptimal with minimum acceptable diet at 24% and minimum dietary diversity for women for More than 5 food groups at 27.4%. Nutrition Causal Analysis (NCA) conducted in the county in 013, showed that some of the causes of malnutrition in the county include but not limited to high child morbidity, inadequate quantity and diversity of age specific foods, in access to safe water attributed to heightened drought situation, poor hygiene.

Finance, and Economic Planning

the department play a big role in the county’s financial planning. It approves the other departments’ projects and allocates the necessary resources for the projects in the order of priorities.  it is also in charge of revenue collection and taxation.

Water, Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources

Isiolo County has three main rivers namely Ewaso Nyiro, Isiolo, and Bisanadhi which flows through the county. Ewaso Nyiro River originates from the Aberdare ranges and north-western slopes of Mount Kenya and drains into the Lorian Swamp. The Isiolo River originates from Mount Kenya and drains into Ewaso Nyiro River. The Ewaso Nyiro North River is the boundary between Isiolo and Samburu Ccounties and runs for approximately 157 km along the common
border, before going inland into the Isiolo County for a further distance of 174 km where it then exits the county and forms the boundary between Wajir and Garissa Counties.

Adequate sanitation is crucial for poverty reduction and sustainable developments. Universal access to sanitation yields health, social and economic benefits to communities. In Kenya, access to sanitation is a basic human right but still 16 million people do not have access to adequate sanitation. In Isiolo, 44.2% percent of the population still use open defecation while 22.8%, 19.3 and 13.7% uses improved, shared and unimproved sanitation respectively (MoH
and WSP, 2014). Human and animal waste is identified as the major pollutants of water. Open defecation is a challenge that leads to pollution of surface water sources in the rural areas. Therefore, there is need to extensively address sanitation issues of 44.2% of the population while improving the existing sanitation facilities.

Lands, Physical Planning, Housing and Urban Development

Land ownership categories/ classification
More than 80% of the land is communally owned and is under the trust ship of the county government. Public land constitutes 10 percent of total land and includes land for schools, administration, army barracks, health facilities and game reserves. The remaining less than 10% of the land is under private ownership and was alienated for private investment in housing, industrial and commercial purposes. Over 80 percent of the land cannot support crop farming
and is used as grazing land by the pastoralists. In some wards, areas such as Kinna and along Ewaso Ngiro River, agro-pastoralism is practised on small scale.

In the rural areas most of the houses have been constructed using mud, grass and wood walled. These dwellings are called “Manyatta” and are temporary in nature. A total of 9,850 of Manyattas are made of mud and sticks walls while 5,491 are made up of grass and sticks walls as per 2009 census. Permanent housing structures are only found in Isiolo town and other upcoming urban Centres. In total, there are 3,220 stone wall houses and 2090 brick wall houses
as permanent housing structures. With devolution the situation has changed in the rural areas with more permanent settlements coming up.

Trade, Investment, Industry, and Cooperative Development

The county has no manufacturing establishments /industries despite a huge potential in livestock product based industries. Currently, there are only 10 Jua Kali associations and several unorganized artisans whose number needs to be determined. There are upcoming micro and small industries in the county.
There is only one major town in the county; Isiolo, which serves as the county‟s administrative headquarter. The other upcoming urban centres are: Garbatulla, Modogashe, Kinna, Merti and Oldonyiro. The main types of markets in Isiolo are five retail and ten livestock markets. The ten major livestock markets in the county are found in Isiolo central, Garbatulla, Belgesh, Eskot, Duse, Kinna, Modogashe, Merti, Kipsing and Oldonyiro. There is a new but growing
market for donkeys at Kiwanja in Ngaremara that is exported to other counties. The main livestock trading include cattle, goats, sheep and camels. Buyers come from Nairobi, Meru, and as far as the coastal region of Kenya. The four retail markets in Isiolo include Isiolo, Kinna, Merti, Kipsing and Oldonyiro. The main traded goods in urban centres and local markets are livestock, fruits, vegetables, maize, beans, wheat, and millet and – a cereal mostly cultivated in
Meru. Most of the maize and beans fruits and vegetables come from other counties. There is potential for establishing spaces for traditional herbs and medicines, gums and resins, camel milk markets.

Industrial parks (including Jua Kali sheds)
There exists an informal Jua kali sector in Isiolo central that includes blacksmiths popularly known as Tum tum, dressmaking, embroidery and artefacts and basketry. The county plans to establish 3 Industrial parks in every sub-county that are appropriately structured with the following objectives:

  • Facilitate transfer of technology and promote local enterprises.
  • Act as a repository for traditional knowledge and skills (documentation).
  • Provide other value addition services together with high quality space and services
  • Promote business planning and incubation

There are 2 industrial centres one in Isiolo Central and another in Madogashe that have not been operationalized but aimed at developing skills to the locals to engage in trade that can be done at the industrial parks.
Major industries
There are no major industries but with the completion of the Isiolo Export Abattoir we expect that there will be inter linkages in the economy and more industries will emerge. This will include:

  • Pet food industries
  • Hides and skins and bones (livestock bi-products)
  • Commercial feed industry

There is also a huge potential in gums and resins as well as Aloe vera.

Last Update: December 5, 2021
December 5, 2021 581 DEBORAHIsiolo County
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