Agriculture, Livestock Development and Fisheries
The economy of Meru is primarily agrarian. The growing of a variety of crops and keeping livestock in some parts of the county form a critical chunk of the economic activities of the people of Meru. The Greater Meru is endowed with soils and climatic conditions that allow for the production of a variety of commodities including wheat, barley, potatoes, millet, sorghum and maize. High grade tea, coffee, bananas and Miraa (Khat) are the key cash crops. The Meru were indeed the first Africans to grow coffee in Kenya in early 1930s upon the implementation of the Devonshire White Paper of 1923. Other crops include groundnuts and a wide range of legumes, vegetables and fruits.
Average Farm Sizes
he average farm size differs from one agro-ecological zone to another. It ranges from 0.2Ha in the tea/dairy zone to over 2Ha in the lower midlands. This therefore calls for adoption of modern technologies to counter the effects of increasing pressure on land.
Main storage facilities
There is inadequate large scale storage facilities in the county. There are two National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots in Meru and Maua. The NCPB depots mainly handle the government subsidized fertilizer and occasional relief food supplies.
Produce storage is mainly done at individual farm level where the facilities are both inadequate and inefficient. This results to high post-harvest losses as well forcing farmers to sell produce immediately after harvesting, a time when prices are low due to over-supply.
Main Livestock Breeds and Facilities
The Meru County farmers keep livestock both for subsistence and commercial purposes. These include dairy and beef cattle, goats, sheep, poultry and honey bees.
The main livestock facility in the county is the Kinoru livestock resource centre (KLRC) which is a diagnostic facility as well as the county’s artificial insemination programme centre.
The County has four company ranches whose land size averages 1000 ha. The major activities carried out include cattle and sheep rearing. The Lewa ranch, one of the company ranches also acts as wildlife conservancy.
Fish production in the County comprises of both aquaculture and to a small extent, capture fisheries in rivers and Dams. Riverine fisheries is however not fully exploited. Aquaculture is mainly practiced in upper and medium zones, which have adequate water for fish production. The County has aquaculture potential of 10,000ha. There are over 3,000 fish farmers practicing pond culture at subsistence level. The main fish species cultured are Tilapia, Catfish, common Carp and Trout in high altitude areas (Meru County Fisheries Annual Report, 2015).
Department Of Education, Technology, Gender & Social Development
The county is made up of 15 education divisions and zones. Staffing is inadequate for both teachers and education officers. Majority of the pupils/students are attending government institutions at the schooling levels except for professionals and vocational training where private institutions absorb most students. The transition rates in the County is approximately 80%, completion rates is 78% while retention rate is 90%.
There are 65,396 children enrolled in public pre-primary schools in the county which constitutes 32,080 male and 33,316 female. This number is enrolled in the 773 ECDE centres. The total number of ECD teachers is 1698 making the teacher child ratio to be 1:50 which is higher than the recommended ratio of 1:25. The age of admission to pre-school education four to five.
The county has 773 public primary schools with a total enrolment of 263,892 pupils and 5,520 teachers. The number of boys is 132,180 and 131,712 girls. The teacher pupil ratio is 1:60 which is higher than the recommended ratio of 1:40. This number of pupil in primary school is however higher than children aged 6-13 years which stand at 298,025. This is may be attributed to many children joining schools when they are older and others joining from neighbouring counties. Introduction of NG-CDF has resulted to growth in the number of schools and also improvement of school infrastructure.
Non formal Education
The total enrolment in the non-formal education is 258 with 98 male and 150 female. The average attendance is 57 male and 82 female totaling to 139.
Vocational Training Centres
The County has 29 public Vocational Training Centres (VTCs) with a total enrolment of 3,333 trainees and 140 instructors. The instructor trainee ratio is 1: 24 which is higher than the recommended ratio of 1:10. The institutions have insufficient instructors, tools and equipment, inadequate infrastructure leading to low transition, retention and completion rates. The VTCs equip youths both class eight and form four leavers with relevant technical, entrepreneurial skills for gainful employment. The courses offered include Building Technology, electrical and electronics, motor vehicle technology, fashion design and garment making among others at certificate level.
There are 377 public secondary schools in the county which absorbs students from both public and private primary schools. These schools have a total enrolment of 93,217 students against 1,825 teachers. The proportion of those enrolled in secondary school is however low compared to the population aged 14-17 years as only 45 per cent are in school. The number of male in secondary school stand at 45,598 which is lower than that of girls whose number is 47,619. The low number of boys could be attributed to a combination of factors in the county.
There are two universities [one private and one public]; four university campuses; two teachers training colleges and various tertiary colleges offering post-secondary education.
Adult and Continuing Education
The county rate of literacy stood at 53 per cent in 2012, with the sex ratio being male 40 per cent and 60 per cent female. This implies that girl child campaign has resulted in imbalances in enrolment and completion rates for boys and girls. To improve the literacy rate, 74 adult learning centres have been established with 816 learners and 312 teachers. There are however more female learners than male as the enrolment is 268 males and 548 females.
This program comprises of basic literacy and post literacy. Basic literacy has a total enrolment of 641, 231 male and 420 female. The average attendance is 288 both male and female. The post literacy has 37 male and 127 female totalling to 164 adults with an average attendance of 108.
Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
Technical, Vocational Education and Training plays a pivotal role in technology diffusion through transfer of knowledge and skills and are recognized as critical channel for social equity, inclusion and viable development. TVETs provide specialized training in specific career field, trade or profession, including computer technology, business administration, culinary arts, electronics, medical assisting, legal assisting, automotive technology and cosmetology. Meru County boasts of 1 National Polytechnic, 5 Technical Training Institution s (TTI) and 29
Vocational Training Centers (VTC). These offer diverse technical courses to form four leavers at Certificate and Diploma level.
Department Of Environment, Natural Resources, and Climate Change
Major Degraded Areas / Hotspots and Major Contributions to Environmental
The main causes of environmental degradation in the county is attributed to anthropogenic activities such as farming, mining, road construction, human settlements and overstocking of livestock. Human activities such over cultivation, overgrazing, uncontrolled mining as well as settlements along sensitive ecosystems disturb the ecological setup and expose soil to erosion, reducing its ability to sustain natural regeneration.
Deforestation poses a serious challenge which is the loss or reduction of tree cover and forests. Most of the public hills have been demarcated and allotment done to individuals, this has posed challenges making conservation planning slow or impossible. Within the grazing areas, there has been reported cases of invasive species colonizing the area. The invasive species have colonized the grazing lands due to their unpalatability.
Finance, Economic Planning, and ICT
The Public Financial Management (PFM) Act 2012 provides for effective and efficient management of public resources. To enhance transparency and accountability in management of public funds, Meru County Government has embraced Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS); public participation during budgeting process; adherence to timelines for the budget process and procurement procedures. PFMA Act 2012 section 125 of the Act requires the budgeting process of county governments in any financial year to consist of integrated development planning which includes the long term planning and medium term planning as well as financial and economic priorities for the county over the medium term.
Information, Communication Technology
Meru County Government has focused on the investment in information and Communication Technology (ICT) to improve governance and service delivery. Most private and public organizations/Institutions have embraced ICT in the day to day operations. There is high demand for internet services and communication requirements. Most of the areas in the county are covered by mobile phone network with the coverage being 95per cent (http://www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com). The areas without mobile network coverage are mainly areas of Tigania East Sub-County. According to the Meru County Public Perception Survey Report of 2016, most of the community members rely on radio, television and newspapers as the major sources of information.
Health Services provision at the County Level is centered around the tenets described by both the Kenya Essential Package of Health Services (KEPH) and Schedule IV of the Kenya Constitution 2010. These two key documents define mandates/roles/responsibilities for interventions and service delivery at Level – 1 (Community), Level – 2 (Dispensary), Leve l – 3 (Health Centre), Level – 4 (Sub-County/ district) and Level – 5 (County Referral) of the health system. The county has 144 community health units and 259 Community health volunteers in Level 1
Human Resource for Health
The county has 1872 health care workers distributed evenly across the county.
According to KDHS 2017, the stunting rate is 25%, underweight 8.1% and wasting at 2.9%.
Immunization coverage, 2017 by sub counties. The coverage rate went down because of numerous health workers strikes.
Land, Physical Planning, Urban Development, and Public Works
Land and Land Use
Land in Meru County is utilized in diverse ways that include: agricultural, residential, educational, public purpose, public utilities, transportation, industrial, recreation and conservation and commercial. However the major land use in the county is mainly for agricultural activities for both crop farming and livestock-keeping. Agricultural land use is common in all the sub Counties and is particularly intense in the Imenti sub counties and Buuri while livestock is common in the Tigania and North Igembe sub counties. Other uses include cultural and forestry conservation. There are large scale farming carried out by private companies in Timau, Buuri constituency. Livestock and Miraa farming is also practised in Tigania and Igembe areas. Coffee, Tea and Macadamia are also major crops produced in Imenti Central and Imenti South sub counties respectively. Other crops grown in the county include Bananas, maize, beans, sorghum, millet, green grams, potatoes, cabbages, carrots and kales among others. Urban uses are also rapidly emerging in the County with Meru, Maua, Nkubu, Timau developing as urban nodes. The urban areas are also being complemented by other centres in the Sub Counties and ward level. Transportation and forestry use constitute other main users in the county.
Land ownership categories/ classification
The land in the county falls under 3 categories as defined by Kenyan constitution:
This is defined as land owned by the government according to the article 62 of the Kenyan constitution.
Article 63 COK defines community land as land lawfully transferred to a specific community by any process of law and is lawfully held, managed or used by specific communities as community forests, grazing areas or shrines, ancestral lands.
This is registered land held by any person under any freehold tenure and land held by any person under leasehold tenure; and any other land declared private land under an Act of Parliament. More than 60% of land in Meru County is registered under private ownership.
Percentage of Land with Title Deeds
Approximately 65 per cent of the farmers in the county have title deeds. However, Meru North region which includes the Igembe South, Central and North and Tigania East and West leads with the highest number of farmers without title deeds. This is mainly as a result of slow process of land registration and numerous land cases in courts occasioned by the use of CAP 284. However the prospect of accelerated land registration are high since the same CAP 284 has since been suspended.
Incidence of Landlessness
Landlessness in the County is manifested inform of squatter settlement mainly in Meru Town, Timau Township and Subuiga area. These settlements are mainly on public land where the squatter lack ownership documents. The lack of critical services in these settlements like water, roads, health and power has resulted increased poverty in these settlements/slums. The County Government and National Government through Slum Upgrading programmes would greatly improve the poor living conditions in these areas. Poverty and lack of income
have hindered land acquisition leading to cases of landlessness. High cost of land is a major hindrance to the low income earners in acquiring land.
Legal Affairs, Public Service Management, and Administration
overnance and the public administration framework is the engine that will drive the county. The county is required by the constitution (Article 10 and Article 175) to ensure that it upholds the principles and values of good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability as well as democratic principles and separation of powers.
The Meru county Governance and Public Administration will be structured in four broad areas.
- The Governor and County Executive Committee;
- The County Public Service;
- The County Treasury; and
- The County Assembly.
In each of these institutions each of the actors will ensure that the public participates in the governance of the county. Thus Public Participation, Civic Education, Communication and Access to Information is a fifth key component of the governance and public administration.
Security, Law and Order
In the past the county has experienced issues such as cross border conflicts. The county faces some of the highest incidences of crime in the country. According to the Annual Crime Report 2015 by the Kenya Police Service, Meru County is among the top five counties with high crime prevalence- Kiambu 4,768 cases, Nakuru 4,384 cases, Nairobi 4,383 cases, Meru 4,215 cases and Mombasa 3,194 cases. In addition the county is also among the top five in terms of Crime Index, that is, 377 cases of crime per 100,000 population. The major crimes committed in the
county include; theft of vehicle and other parts with a total of 1,242 offences reported in 2015; stealing with 831 reports, other penal code offence at 411 criminal damage with 374 and robbery with 253 reported offences. These trends need to be reversed if economic production potential is to be fully realized.
Types and Number of Courts
There are 5 courts in Meru County, namely:
a) One (1) High Court – Meru High Court
b) Four (4) Magistrate Courts- Maua, Nkubu, Tigania and Githongo.
Department Of Roads, Transport & Energy
The county has 5,968 km of road network. This comprises of 582 km bitumen, 581 km gravel and 4,805 km of earth surface roads. This network is maintained by different road agencies such as KeRRA, KURA, KeNHA and County Government. Eighty percent of the earth roads are under the mandate of the county government. However during the rainy seasons, some sections of earth surface roads are impassable.
Airports and Airstrips
The county is served by the Isiolo International Airport and a number of airstripts, namely: Gaitu, Mitunguu and private airstrips which include; Lewa wild life conservancy, Meru national park, Kisima farm, Oldonyo farm, Embori farm and Maarania farm airstrips.
Major Bus and Lorry Parks/Terminus
Meru county has several upgraded bus parks which include; Nkubu offset, Kionyo, Nkubu main stage, Gitimbine, Gakoromone offset, Samrat, Riverland, G4S, Meru main stage, Personality, Makutano main stage, Makutano offset, Timau main stage, Kianjai offset, Maua Main stage, Kariene, offset, Laare and Maua offset.
Trade, Investments, Industrialization, Tourism, and Cooperatives
Industry and Trade
The County has continued to promote growth of trade through provision of market facilities. In each and every sub county headquarters there is a market that facilitates wholesale and retail trade. Notable markets include; Gakoromone Market, Nkubu Fresh produce market, Maua Cereals and Fruits Market, Mutuati Fresh produce market, Athiru Ruujine Market, Nchiru Market, Mikinduri Cereals and Livestock market, Katheri Market, Kangeta Market, Kiguchwa Market among others. There are different kinds of products and wares that are
traded within the markets, these include; cereals, household goods, animals, textiles, leather articles, fruits and vegetables The county has been facilitating producer business groups and SMEs in promoting their products through participation in Trade exhibitions and trade fairs outside the County e.g. Kenya International Investment Conference and Dar esallam Trade Expo.
To propel the manufacturing sector within the County, the County government is in the
process of conducting a feasibility study on the development of an industrial park. Beside this the County government has continued to support the Constituency Industrial Development Centres through provision of tools and equipment. Through the Directorate of Trade the County Government has put up several Juakali sheds with the complete ones being located in Kiigene, Nkubu Mitumba and Nkubu Shoe sellers. It has continued to support the Constituency Industrial Development Centres through provision of tools and equipment.
The county has a number of factories which add value to mainly tea and coffee. These are mainly owned by the various tea and coffee cooperatives societies. There are also factories processing livestock products such as milk, owned by farmer’s cooperatives. There are other factories in the county producing bread and animal feeds which are in small scale and mainly found in Meru town. The sector has been under exploited by the County given the potential. It has huge potential in turning around the economic ecosystem of the people. The notable
processing factories which add value to agricultural products within the County are Meru Dairy Cooperative Union which processes Mount Kenya Dairy Products and Njeru industries which processes purple tea for export. Inadequate factories to process the raw material available in the county remains a key challenge to overcome.
Types and Number of Businesses
The County has continued to prosper in terms of retail and whole sale trade. The types of businesses operating in Meru County include retail shops, wholesale shops that break the bulk of fast consumer moving goods. There are beauty parlours, salons and barber shops, boutiques and fashion shops that cater for the beauty and fashion industries. In the financial sector the county hosts several banks, microfinance’s and banks. The agriculture and building sector is catered for by Hardware’s, agro processing and manufacturing. The other kinds of businesses include print and stationery, bookshops, health centres, pharmacies and hospitals among others.
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSMEs)
The County has continued to support the growth of MSMEs through implementation of policy framework, provision of affordable finance, and support in access of tools and equipment, provision of market facilities and facilitation in creation of market linkages. MSMEs within the County have continued to benefit with the capacity buildings programs offered by the DeparFtment of Trade, Tourism and Cooperatives. The launching of County Traders SACCOs in each of the Sub County has ensured quick and affordable access to finance for the
Main Tourist Attractions and Activities
The County has 39 profiled and mapped operational and potential tourist attractions in the county. There has been a continued immense interest in tourism product development by the county and other stakeholders. Currently, Tourism sector in the county is fairly growing with the promotion of Meru National park, Mt. Kenya National park, Lewa Downs Conservancy and NgareNdare Forest Trust as the major tourist attraction sites in Upper Eastern-Kenya. These sites have sustained attraction of adventure tourists and competitive sports like the rhino charge and the Safaricom marathon. These sites offer additional activities mountain climbing, canopy walks, camping, trekking, and diving at waterfalls, bird watching and safari drives .The County is in the process of establishing Nyambene Conservancy that has attraction sites like Igombe Crater, bird watching and breathtaking sceneries. This sector has a high potential especially with neighbouring Isiolo County having a resort city as a flagship project under the Kenya Vision 2030. The county expects to benefit from tourism industry among other tourism activities.
Water, and Irrigation
The county has eleven (11) permanent rivers with major one being River Kathita which is a tributary to River Tana. The county has several shallow wells, protected springs, water pans, Public and Private Dams and boreholes. These form the major sources of water for domestic use and irrigation. The quality of waters in the county is good hence recommended for both domestic use and irrigation as it originates from pristine catchment areas within Mount Kenya and Nyambene forests. Despite this, the land use practices and increase in use of
agrochemicals in agriculture sector tend to pollute the water as it flows downstream.
Water Supply Schemes
The county has water supply in some urban centres mainly from rivers originating from Mt. Kenya forest and Nyambene hills. Meru Water and Sewerage Company (MEWASS) is the only company licensed to supply water and sewerage services in Meru and Maua towns. IMETHA Water Company supplies water to all other towns and markets around the county. Other small water projects including church owned Diocese of Meru water and sewerage company (DOMWASCO) have been started through community initiatives due to high demand for
domestic and irrigation especially in arid areas of the county.
Water Sources and Access
The average distance to the nearest water point in 2009 was 1.5km. This has however been reduced following the use of county water funds and NG-CDF funds to finance community water projects aimed at bringing water closer to the people. The number of households with access to piped water stands at 25,212 while household with access to potable is 7,418. This contrasts sharply with the supply of water as only 2 per cent of the population has access to piped water.
Water management Institutions in Meru County include; MEWASS, IMETHA and DOMWASCO. These institutions work with community water projects committees to ensure sustainable usage of water in the county. The County Government is embarking on various activities to protect water catchment areas for sustainability through of planting bamboo trees.
The agricultural potential of Meru County has not been fully harnessed due to widespread reliance on rain-fed agriculture. The rains are often not enough and this results to massive crop failure. The lower parts of Tigania and Buuri sub-counties have vast land resources and are more adversely affected by drought. Development of irrigation infrastructure in these areas would boost food production and improve food security in the county.
Youth Affairs, Culture & Sports
Museums, Heritage and Cultural sites
There is one museum in Meru town currently managed by the National Museums of Kenya (NMK). However, there are ongoing plans for NMK to hand over the museum to the county governments. Due to limited space for expansion the CGM in collaboration with the NMK intends to relocate the museum to a more spacious location at Nchiru. This will provide a repository for conservation, preservation and exhibition of Meru Cultural heritage.
The department of culture is currently establishing two cultural centres namely; Mitungu Cultural Centre located in Imenti South Sub-County and Mwariama Cultural Centre located in Tigania East Sub-County.
Meru County boasts of potential sportsmen and women. The directorate of youth and sports started a talent academy Programme in the FY 2013/14 to train the youth in football, volleyball, and music. In football, the directorate trained 200 youths; 100 in volleyball; and 100 in music. The above Programme was discontinued due to inadequacy of funding. The department has successfully held sports championships in all the sub counties both in football and athletics. These championships have featured locally, regionally, and nationally.
In every sub-county, there is a public playground. The directorate of youth and sports has upgraded the following stadiums; Kinoru which has been upgraded to international standards, Maua, MailiTatu, Timau, Kibirichia, Nguthiru, and Kirwiro Baseball Complex.
Last Update: November 29, 2021