Tharaka-Nithi County

Education, Vocational Training, Sports, Youth, Culture & Tourism

Education, Skills, Literacy and Infrastructure

The county has 577 ECD centres comprising of 432 public and 145 private centres, 479primary schools and 141 secondary schools. The County’s early childhood development educational institutions enrol children from at an average of 3-6 years. The total ECDE enrolment is about 24,000 composed of 10,000 girls and 14,000 boys in public and private centres. Most of the private ECDE Centres are community managed but outside the mother primary schools while others are managed by churches. The dropout rate is 20% for both primary and secondary schools. The dropout rate of boys was 22% being higher than of girls (20%). The transition rate from ECDE to primary is quite high at a rate of 85%. The transition rate from primary to secondary schools is approximately 70%. The gross enrolment in primary and secondary schools was 92,379 (85%).

Pre School Education
There are over 24,000 children in pre-school education. The ratio of boys to girls is 1:1. In the county 432 public pre-school centres have been established with 864 teachers whose 449 are employed by the County government while the rest through parents financing. The teacher student ratio is 1:43. Access and participation at ECDE level is still low in the county. Parents and communities therefore had to pay levies to cater for the management of ECDE center, payment of teachers and cooks salary, purchasing of teaching/learning and play materials as well as putting up infrastructure. There is need for employment of more
ECDE teachers and caregivers, as well as increased funding to increase access and ensure quality facilities as most of the ECDE centres in the county, are in semi-permanent structures that have been poorly serviced and maintained. Most of the ECDE centres lack adequate play materials as well as play equipment’s and rest facilities.

Primary Education
The county has 479 primary schools with a total gross enrolment of 93,939 pupils (46,460 female and 47,479 male). There are 3,323 primary school teachers in the county hence the teacher pupil ratio is 1: 28. On the other hand the average number of teachers is about 7 meaning that the teacher shortage is still acute despite the teacher student ratio being favourable for the county. A majority of the County population is literate with only 17 % unable to read while 13.2 % of the population is not able to write. Those who cannot read or write are 16.9 %. Adult education programs should be intensified to reach the population that needs literacy and numeracy skills. A total of 21% of Tharaka Nithi County residents have secondary level of education or above, while 17% have no formal education.

Youth Polytechnics
The County Youth Polytechnics empowers youth through provision of accessible, appropriate and quality training in technical, vocational, industrial, entrepreneurship and life skills. The County has 18 registered youth polytechnics with a total enrolment of slightly over 3,400 trainees. The County Government in partnership with other stakeholders will ensure effective and efficient Technical and Vocational Training in Youth Polytechnic through Networking with all those involved in vocational training, Construction and improvement of existing Youth Polytechnics infrastructure ,Equipping YPs with the relevant tools, equipment and training materials , Training of Managers and Instructors ,Resource mobilization, Establishing linkages with industry , Constant Inspection, Quality Assurance ,Monitoring and Evaluation. The polytechnics are faced with myriad challenges including lack of funding, poor and outdated tools and equipment for training and poor infrastructure.

Secondary Education
The county has 141 secondary schools with total enrolment of 37,988 students (18,677 females and 19,311 males). The number of secondary school teachers in the county is 1,233 meaning the teacher to student ratio in the county is 1:30.

Tertiary Education
The county has two universities, one is Chuka University established by the Government of Kenya while the other one is PCEA Rubate University College. Methodist University also established a satellite campus at Marimanti.

Technical, Vocational Education and Training
Currently there are three technical training institutes in the county namely Muraga TTI, Chuka TTI at Mwanjati and Tharaka TTI at Marimanti. All these institutions are not fully operational and more needs to be done to ensure all the departments are operationalized. In the previous planning the national government recently released Ksh. 25 million to each of the three TTIs to ensure there are improved. In addition, there is a private technical training institute at Kiini funded by Germany development cooperation.

Sports, Culture and Creative Arts
This section deals with the heritage and cultural sites, talent academies, sport facilities, library documentation Centers and the traditional herbalists in County.
Museums, Heritage and Cultural Sites
The Directorate of culture strives to promote, develop and conserve our tangible and intangible cultural heritage. The County has been an active participant in the annual Kenya music and cultural festivals up to the national level. There are over 100 (one hundred) active cultural groups and artist in the County. In order to promote the upcoming artist the department organizes exhibitions in visual and culinary art. The department has been involved in successful selection and vetting of heroes and heroine in the county.
Talent Academies
The county does not have a single talent academy but it is planning to have one set up at Kathwana. The physical planning docket to set aside land for development of the same.

Sports Facilities
The Directorate of sports has 280 registered sport clubs, 50 volleyball clubs, 3 active darts clubs though there are inadequate athletic personnel. The directorate has prepared a draft Tharaka Nithi County Sports Policy 2015. It hosts the governor’s cup (football for both men and women), County volleyball tournament, participates in inter-County championship as well as beyond zero and other marathons since 2013. It has registered 17 new football clubs and has started a tournament for dart clubs and constructed five semi standard stadiums. Construction of a full standard stadium is on-going at Kirubia in Chuka Sub-county.

Roads, Infrastructure, Housing, Public Works, ICT & Energy

Road, Rail Network, Ports and Airports, Airstrips and Jetties

Infrastructure has been cited as one of the foundations for economic transformation towards attainment of the Vision 2030.Transport infrastructure includes roads, railways, ports, airports, airstrips and jetties. The county has a total road network of 1670Km of which 630Km is classified network, and 1040 is unclassified network. The county has only 61Km of bitumen road. These include the 32Km of road B6 along Nairobi-Meru highway from Kathegeri-Chuka-Chogoria to Keria, 18 Km along Ishiara-Kathwana-Chiakariga (Mate road), Five (5) Km on E789 (Chiakariga-Marimanti), 4.8Km on D474 (Chogoria-Maara),
and 1.2 on D471 (Kibugua). Gravel surface covers 36.4Km while the rest is earth surface.

The other roads consist of a maintainable road network covering 808Km in Tharaka and 402Km in Maara and Meru South Sub County’s. Improved road networks in the County will enhance transport, communication and access to markets. Currently there is no rail, airport, airstrip or jetty in the county.

Energy Access
The main sources of energy in the county are firewood, paraffin and charcoal. There is an increase in usage of solar energy especially by health and education institutions that do not have access to electricity lines. The rural electrification program by the National Government has been implemented in 10 trading centers in the county. Investment in alternative renewable energy sources will enhance reliability of power supply in the county, especially Hydro-electric power generation, solar and wind, biogas energy. The National Government plans to construct the High Grand falls multipurpose dam in Thraka Nithi which will be critical in generating hydropower for the nation.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 recognizes the right to adequate housing as an important component of the right to adequate standard of living. In Tharaka Nithi County, 33% of residents have homes with cement floors, while 66% have earth floors. Less than 1% has wood floors and more than 1% has tiles according to KNBS 2013 Report.

Most houses in rural areas are mud-walled or wooden with earth or cement floors. In urban centres houses are mainly made of stones with corrugated iron sheets for roofing. The level of housing in the market centres and the main urban areas has recently improved owing to increased institutional developments, administrative areas and increased level of business. The growth of tertiary institutions has also contributed to the demand for decent housing to accommodate the high number of students, lecturers and other staff. The readily availability of sand, hard-core and other building materials especially in Tharaka and Igambang’ombe areas make the cost of construction relatively low.

Finance, Economic Planning, and Trade

The County Fiscal Strategy Paper (CFSP) is a primary financial policy statement of the county government which sets out the priority programmes the government intends to implement. The County Fiscal Strategy Paper 2021 identifies the broad strategic priorities and policy goals that will guide the County Government in preparing its budget for Financial Year (FY) 2021/22 and the Medium Term. Through this, the government is able to achieve its priorities and within the context of limited resources in the medium-term expenditure framework (FY 2021/22 – FY 2023/24). These priorities may be new or continuing sector-specific programmes that are to be funded in the next budget year and over the medium term.

Health Services and Sanitation

Health Access
In the last ten years, the county has seen construction of more health facilities. Chuka Level4 hospital has proposed to be the County referral hospital. A majority of the population access health services from level two hospitals as well as mission hospitals. Six level twohospitals are located in Tharaka and Meru South. However, the county is in need of at least two level 4 hospitals, and level two to serve the sparsely populated areas in the lower parts of the county.

Mpukoni, Magetuni, Muthambi, Gatunga Kajuki and Chiakariga are level three hospitals proposed for upgrading level 4. The latest improvement in providing health services under the stimulus program has been the construction of a model health center in Chuka. Private clinics have also been established in the county. Provision of quality health care can be enhanced by increasing the number of pharmacies, equipping available health facilities especially for maternity services.

Nutritional Status
The nutritional status is best reflected in the health of children under 5 years. Over 70% of children of children have attained the recommended weight-for-age and weight-for-height. Malnourished children are given food supplements by well- wishers and local NGO’s

Immunization Coverage

The county has only 40 % of children less than five years of age fully vaccinated. Immunization coverage is 76%. This is below the national average and more awareness on the need to immunize children should be done. More dispensaries should also be built to serve the sparsely distributed population.

Over 87.7% of the county population uses pit latrines. Most farmers, who form majority of the population in the county, use farms for waste disposal. Those in urban areas make use of garbage pits. Sanitation coverage is 76%. To improve in public health and welfare, there is need to secure exhausters and construct more receptacle tanks in urban areas. This will improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater, and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.

Public Service, Administration & Devolution Affairs

Administrative Subdivision

The County is divided into four (4) administrative sub counties namely Tharaka North, Tharaka South, Meru South and Maara. Tharaka North Sub County is the largest covering an area of 803.4 Km2, followed by Tharaka South with 766.1 Km2. Meru South is third in size with an area of 624.4 Km2 and Maara is the smallest Sub County covering an area of 468.2 Km2. There are sixty three (63) locations and one hundred and sixty four (164) sub-
locations in the County.

Lands, Physical Planning, Urban Development, Environment, Water, Irrigation & Natural Resources

Land and Land Use

Land ownership categories/ classification

There are three main land ownership categories within the county. These are;

  • Private
  • Public
  • Community

Private Land

This refers to land that is held in freehold or leasehold tenure. This is as articulated in Article 64 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
a) Freehold
This is the most common tenure of land within the county and translates to more than 85% of all the registered land within the county. This is land mostly put into agricultural use.

b) Leasehold
This type of tenure is mostly found in urban areas within the county. It is restricted to areas that were left for towns and trading centres. This accounts for less than 5% of the land within the registered areas.

Public Land
This category refers to land that is put into public purpose and utility use. It’s identified as areas where the use is for common public interest as articulated in Article 62 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. The County has an estimated 5% of registered land set aside as public land.

Community Land
This category relates to land that is held by community groups or by communities for public interests as enshrined in Article 63 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. This accounts for quite a small fraction of land within the registered areas and is also found mainly in un-adjudicated areas of the County.


The county is well endowed with both ground water and surface water available through numerous rivers originating from Mt. Kenya Forest. In the drier parts of the county; boreholes, water pans, earth dams and shallow wells provide water for the community. It is important to increase the availability of water to the community through increasing reservoirs for rainwater harvesting, sinking of more boreholes while rehabilitating the existing ones. It is also important to capacity build the community on operation and maintenance of community water project for sustainability. This is economical for smaller concentration of population.

Water Resources
A majority of the county population access water from rivers, wells, springs, dams and boreholes. A number of households, mostly in the county’s urban areas, have piped water. Over 50% of the population take 15 minutes to 1 hour to access water from the source with over 23% of the county population spending over one hour to access water. This clearly shows that the population is about 5 kilometres away from water sources. This calls for implementation of more water projects in order to address the needs of the marginalised areas.

Irrigation potential
The county has a high irrigation potential. There is a high demand for irrigation water due to unreliable rains hence efforts to increase the irrigation water supply for the irrigation schemes.

Irrigation schemes (small/ large scale)

The major irrigation schemes in the county include Muringa Banana, Kibung’a-Kakimiki, Kiaga, Nguuru Gakirwe, Turima Tweru, Rwatha Karethani, Kithigiri-Kamantungu, Mbogoni, Jasho Igamatundu and Mugummango among others.

In the past seven years, Grassroots Development Initiatives Foundation-Kenya (GRADIF-K) has been partnering in the successful implementation of a Natural Resources Management (NRM) Project focusing on Agriculture as the key component. The key strategies applied in the implementation of this project are: Capacity Building for various project stake holders, Advocacy& Policy influencing, building of strategic partnerships, documentation and dissemination of success stories, use of demonstration sites, networking and linking up targeted farmers’ groups/organizations with key actors and various service providers.

Agriculture, Livestock, Veterinary Services, Fisheries Development, Industry & Cooperative Development

Main Crops Produced
The main occupation of the people in the county is agriculture, which include crop and livestock production. The main food crops include; maize, beans, cowpeas, sorghum, green grams, millet, pigeon peas, and bananas. The cash crops include tea and coffee grown mainly in Maara and Chuka/Igambang’ombe constituencies. However, farmers from Tharaka grow green grams and sorghum as a food and cash crop.

Acreage under Food Crops and Cash Crops
An estimated 80% of the county population is engaged in agricultural activities. Approximately 43,799 hectares is under food crops while cash crops cover 14,839 hectares. Crop farming is mainly rainfall dependent and is therefore characterized by frequent crop failures especially in Tharaka areas. Improved infrastructural support service is required to increase agricultural output. Access to high yielding drought tolerant crops and the provision of subsidized agricultural inputs can enhance productivity in the agricultural sector.

Main Livestock Breeds and Facilities
Livestock keeping is one of the main sources of livelihood for the residents of Tharaka Nithi County. The main livestock in the county include cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, rabbits and beekeeping. Cattle breeds kept include Friesian, Guernsey, Ayrshire, Jersey and their crosses while borans, sahiwal, zebus and crosses are kept in the lower areas. Milk marketing is a major income earner for the Tharaka Nithi residents especially Chuka/Igambang’ombe and Maara. The County is a major producer of dairy goats and dairy goat milk where Toggenburg dairy goats and their crosses are kept. Meat goats kept include the Galla goats and other indigenous breeds. Poultry kept include chicken- both exotic and indigenous, ducks, turkeys, geese, quails and doves. Keeping of improved indigenous chicken breeds such as kuroiler, rainbow rooster and Kenbro has been on the increase. Other animals kept in the county include pets (dogs and cats) and donkeys.

Last Update: November 26, 2021  

November 26, 2021 434 DEBORAH  Tharaka-Nithi County
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