Machakos County Profile
Machakos County is one of the three administrative counties within the Kamba Nation. The County is currently under the leadership of H.E. Governor Alfred Mutua, the county’s first governor. Dr. Mutua is a youthful, visionary, and energetic leader who has set the pace in County governance and scored relatively well compared to other 46 governors across the different counties within the Republic of Kenya.
Machakos County sits strategically, along the Mombasa-Kampala highway. The County shares its borders with eight other counties. To the west, Machakos County borders the County of Nairobi and Kiambu County. To the east, the County of Machakos borders Kitui County, while to the north; the county shares its borders with Embu County. To the south, Machakos County shares its borders with Makueni County; while southwest, the county borders Kajiado County. Lastly, to the North West, the County of Machakos shares its borders with Murang’a County and Kirinyaga County.
Machakos County has eight sub-counties namely: Machakos Town; Mavoko; Masinga; Yatta; Kangundo; Kathiani; Matungulu; and Mwala. Machakos Town is the administrative capital of the county.
Machakos County’s Top Economic Activities and Investment Opportunities
Machakos County has 4976 registered women groups, 2,044 youth groups, and 13,791 self-help groups across the county. Owing to the strategic positioning of Machakos County relative to the counties of Makueni and Kitui, the county has been the most attractive county in the region to investors. The county has put in place strategic investments, focusing on four areas, i.e.: health and wellbeing; education and skills development; employment and entrepreneurship; and youth empowerment. Interventions on those strategic focus areas will help towards the achievement of a healthier population while improving the economic status of the people of Machakos County.
Currently, the main economic activity in Machakos County is subsistence agriculture. The county has various open-air markets where buyers and sellers converge on major market days to trade their produce, which includes foodstuffs, and various livestock. Rain-fed dependent agriculture systems seem to have the potential to remain as the agricultural dominant systems in the County of Machakos. Unfortunately, the county experiences erratic and unpredictable rain usually less than 500 millimeters annually.
Due to the unsustainable rainfall experienced in the region, only corn and other drought-resistant crops like sorghum and millet are grown across the county. Further, the agricultural potential yield is limited by factors like soil infertility, pests, and diseases alongside post-harvesting wastage.
Tourism is another major economic activity in the County. The county has attracted investments by leading players within the hospitality industry, helping make the county the place to be for local and international tourists. Despite being a semi-arid county characterized by hilly terrain, Machakos County is blessed with beautiful scenery. The County offers an authentic cultural experience featuring various natural attractions and recreational centers. The beautiful hilly scenery makes the county a top destination for outdoor lovers.
Some tourist-related activities in the county include camping, hiking, sightseeing, and cultural tourism including dance and music festivals. Among the top attractive places to visit in Machakos include: Fourteen Falls; Ol-Donyo Sabuk National Park; Magnetic Hill Anti-Gravity Site; Masinga Dam; Iveti Forest Reserve; Komarock Shrine; Machakos Peoples Park; and Lukenya Hills
Apart from the above tourist attraction sites, Machakos County has identified various tourism and entertainment opportunities ideal for investors. Therefore, interested investors can collaborate with the County’s tourism sports and culture ministry regards the following potential projects:
The development of resort cities
Construction of high end and budget hotel
Investment in Conference Facilities
Setting up of Amusement Parks, Clubs, Casinos, theatres and specialty restaurants
Machakos County has been selected to host the upcoming Konza Technology City. Konza Technology City has been billed Africa`s first techie City and will become the World’s third IT magnet after California based Silicon Valley This is based on the county’s close proximity to the Capital City of Kenya and the amazing landscape. Moreover, the county has massive chunks of land and has a good infrastructure.
Machakos County is also home to upcoming industrial and residential centers. Good examples include Athi River and Mlolongo towns, which, by far are the leading in terms of developments within Machakos County.
Challenges in Machakos County
While the Machakos County Government is working hard towards ending poverty and hunger in all their forms and dimensions, this has not been without various challenges. Political, economic, and social problems continue to affect service delivery to local citizens in rural areas. The state of water delivery and sanitation is particularly problematic, with most of the existing water and sanitation facilities in the county being old, dilapidated, and in dire need of rehabilitation. The adequacy, equity and reliability of government rural water supply projects in the County have deteriorated due to: inadequate budgetary provision; facilities that have not been upgraded to cope with increasing demand; and a decline in technical performance with increasing age of equipment and inadequate maintenance.
Uncontrolled sand harvesting in the county has led to severe environmental degradation resulting in a change of the regime of some of the rivers and the loss of retention capacities of some seasonal rivers.
Progresses Made in Machakos County
Owing to the strategic positioning of Machakos County relative to the counties of Makueni and Kitui, the county has been more attractive to investors.
The county has put in place strategic investments, focusing on four areas i.e.: health and wellbeing; education and skills development; employment and entrepreneurship; and youth empowerment. Interventions on those strategic focus areas will help towards the achievement of a healthier population while improving the economic status of the people of Machakos County.
Further to that, there have been significant developments in the following areas:
- Infrastructure developments including the construction of new roads and upgrading of access roads within the county
- Partnering with the National Government on the “Last Mile” project to increase connectivity to the national grid across the county
- Setting up funding to support women’s projects through table banking
- 15 new irrigation schemes that spread across the six sub-counties have been proposed
- Implementation of the County Water Programme, reducing the average distance to 1 kilometer
- Construction of health care facilities across the sub-counties
- Collaboration with development partners including USAID, World Bank, World Vision, UN agencies among others
Makueni County Profile
Formerly Makueni district, Makueni County occupies approximately 8,000 square kilometers. The current governor of Makueni County is Professor Kivutha Kibwana, a family man and an educationalist who is notably committed to improving the livelihood of the Citizens of the greater Kamba nation.
Makueni County has six sub-counties, namely: Kaiti; Kilome; Kibwezi East; Kibwezi West; Makueni; and Mbooni sub-counties. The capital of Makueni County is Wote Town, which also happens to be the largest town within the county.
Makueni County lies within an arid and semi-arid zone, located on the lower eastern region of Kenya, sharing its borders with Machakos County to the North, Kajiado County to the West, Taita-Taveta County to the South, and Kitui County to the East.
Makueni County’s Economic Activities and Investment Opportunities
Agriculture is the predominant economic activity in Makueni County. Currently, the total arable land covers 5042.69 square kilometers, equivalent to 74 percent of the total area. Horticulture and dairy farming is also practiced within the hilly parts of Kilungu and Mbooni West sub-counties.
In Lowland areas covering Kathonzweni, Mbooni East, Nzaui, and Makueni sub-counties, the main economic activities are livestock keeping, cotton, and fruit production. Other economic activities include sand harvesting, harvesting of limestone, granite, gypsum, and Quartz in the Kibwezi constituency. Value addition, trade, and commercialization are still at very low levels within Makueni County. However, the County Government of Makueni is focusing on the establishment of different projects to improve economic activities within the county.
Tourism is one of the sectors promoting the economy of Makueni County. Numerous tourist attraction sites within the county register a good number of local and international tourists every year. Makueni County offers various five-star accommodations suitable for local and international tourists.
The County is connected to the rest of the country through the Standard Gauge Railway and an extensive road network. With better infrastructure, Makueni County has huge potential from its tourism sector.
Some of the top tourist attractions within Makueni County include:
- Tsavo East National Park
- Chyulu Hills National Park
- Kibwezi irrigation schemes
- Jipe Moyo Conservancy
- Makuli-Nguta Forest
- Kisula Leviathan Caves
- Historic AIC Church in Nzaui Sub County
Challenges in Makueni County
In Makueni County, the top challenges are food insecurity, limited access to clean drinking water/ inadequate water supply, a depletion of water catchment areas, poor infrastructure, agriculture-related challenges, poor healthcare, degradation of land resources, low rainfall, pests, and diseases, as well as poor agricultural practices women and children walking long distances to water points, and sand harvesting which worsens the situation.
The poor population experiences limited access to basic needs. The basic requirements include things like food, shelter, clothing, health, water, and education. Moreover, the majority of the poor are children, women, and persons living disabilities. The worst hit are women, and this is because of gender inequality, limited access to and ownership of land, and limited income-generating activities as well as isolation when making important decisions.
Unemployment has also reached an alarming rate in the county. Consequently, the county is experiencing relatively high levels of poverty, standing at 34.8 percent according to the KIHBS 2015/2016 report.
Progresses Made in Makueni County
The Makueni County 2018-2022 Integrated Development Plan focuses on transforming the county the socio-economic status by the year 2025. Under the leadership of H.E Kivutha Kibwana, the County Integrated Development Plan aims to:
- Increase productivity, enable value addition and commercialization within the Agricultural sector
- Ensure availability and easy access to water
- Enhance the quality of health care for Citizens of Makueni County
- Achieve economic empowerment with special focus on youth, women, and persons with disability
- Secure land tenure and urbanization
Overall, the envisioned Makueni County socio-economic empowerment focuses on ensuring an increased household income. This has been seen through the implementation of various projects including:
- Makueni Fruit Processing Plant
- Kikima Dairy Mini Processing Plant
- Administering 17,000 high breed artificial inseminations
- Putting up of modern market sheds and livestock yards
- ENE microfinance Bank and Tetheka Fund
- Facilitation in establishing 30 new cooperative societies
While the Government of Makueni County is working tirelessly to achieve the above objectives, various challenges serve as impediments to progress including low revenue collection and low allocation from the national kitty. Moreover, some departments are under capacitated, which affects service delivery to the citizens in rural areas. This is notwithstanding the political turmoil, which has bedeviled the implementation of various projects. These challenges have affected the endeavor of achieving development in the rural areas.
Kitui County Profile
Kitui County is named after Kamba ironsmiths who occupied the region prior to the colonial period. The County covers approximately 30,496 square kilometers and shares its borders with seven counties. Kitui County has eight administrative sub-counties. They include: Kitui West Sub County; Kitui Central Sub County; Kitui Rural Sub County; Kitui South Sub County; Kitui East Sub County; Mwingi North Sub County; Mwingi West Sub County; and Mwingi Central Sub County.
Ever since the formation of Kitui County, the administrative County has had two governors. The first Governor was HE Governor Julius Malombe, while the incumbent is Charity Kaluki Ngilu deputized by Gideon Nzau Wathe.
Notably, Kitui County is the first county within the Kamba Nation to have elected a female governor and is the first county to have experienced the leadership of two different governors in the first ten years after the implementation of devolution.
Kitui County is located 170 Kilometers in the South East of Nairobi County. Its neighboring counties include Tharaka Nithi County and Meru County to the North, Embu County to the North East, Machakos and Makueni to the West, Tana River to the East, and Southeast, while Taita-Taveta lies to the South.
Kitui County’s Economic Activities and Investment Opportunities
Kitui town has a huge potential for commercial activities and it is a financial hub for the surrounding sub-counties.
Kitui was historically known as a center for long-distance traders owing to the good relations with neighboring communities. For the people of Kitui, trade is still a major economic activity. They trade locally produced foodstuffs as well as fine art such as woodcarvings, basketry, and pottery, targeting the local and international tourists.
Tourism is a major boost to the economy of Kitui County. Mwingi, for instance, is mapped as the largest town next to the LAPSSET corridor and has major potential for tourism activities. Kitui County boasts some of the top tourist destinations in Kenya. Among the top tourist destinations within Kitui County include:
- Tsavo East National Park
- South Kitui National Reserve
- Nzambani Rock
- Mwingi National Reserve
- Nuu Hills
- Ikoo Valley
- Kulalu Ranch
- Mumoni Hills
- Kanyonyoo Sanctuary
- Ngomeni Rock Catchment and Conservancy
In addition, there are several restaurants within Kitui County offering a five-star experience. Moreover, the County has a good road network connecting it to Machakos County and Makueni County.
The County is also a hub for business ventures anchored on its natural resources. Mui Basin, for example, is a potential coal-mining region as well as for limestone mining.
Challenges in Kitui County
Kitui County is characterized by water scarcity, food insecurity, a high rate of poverty, and environmental degradation. These challenges can be attributed to the rapid population growth and climate change.
When it comes to developments, Kitui County is way below the national average, based on various socio-economic indicators. For instance, when it comes to the Human Development Index, Kitui stood at 0.53 compared to Machakos County at 0.54 and 0.56 for Makueni County.
The County continues to experience serious water scarcity challenges owing to the diminished water supply as a result of recurring droughts. Environmental degradation including human activities like deforestation have worsened the water scarcity challenges. As the population keeps growing, the county will keep experiencing degradation of the upstream catchment as people seek to expand the agricultural land. Destruction of forests due to dependence on wood fuels and low forestation levels will have severe consequences on the ecosystem and result in food insecurity.
Progresses Made in Kitui County
Following its mandate, as enshrined in the 2010 constitution of the Republic of Kenya, the County Government of Kitui is developing long-term development blueprint dubbed “Kitui Vision for Economic and Social Transformation”. The development plan focuses on guiding the County Government on addressing the economic and social problems facing the people of Kitui County. The long-term development plan covers various economic and investment zones as established in the year 2013. The various economic and investment zones shall include:
- Kyuso-Mumoni-Tsekuru Economic and Investment Zone
- Mui-Basin Economic and Investment Zone
- Mwingi Town and Environs Economic and Investment Zone
- Kitui County Headquarters and Environs Economic and Investment Zone
- Kanyangi-Kwa Vonza-Kanyonyoo Economic and Investment Zone
- Mutomo-Ikutha-Kanziko Economic and Investment Zone
The Kitui County Government accords priority to five pillars focused on attaining the socio-economic and political transformation of Kitui County. The five pillars are:
- Food security and water
- Universal health coverage
- Education and training
- Empowerment of women, youth and persons with disabilities
- Wealth creation
The pillar on wealth creation focuses on the expansion of the manufacturing sector in line with the Kitui Vision for Economic and Social Transformation. Moreover, the County Government focuses on supporting programs targeting value addition in Agriculture, and livestock industries.
Further, it is recognized that for the county government to address the issue of food security, access to clean water should be a priority. Therefore, programs targeting the extension of water piping, drilling of boreholes, and water harvesting require more attention.
Apart from food security and the question of access to clean water, the county government is focusing on investing in programs that promote education and training as well as the empowerment of special groups.
While the County Government of Kitui is doing as much to help with poverty alleviation, lack of enough funding is a major issue. Over the period 2014/15-2016/17, the local revenue collection averaged at about 53 percent of the annual targets. Therefore, the underperformance poses a serious threat to smooth budget implementation. Consequently, rural citizens will not receive much-needed assistance, which means they will continue languishing in poverty.