Kirinyaga County number 020 is located in the central region and borders Meru County to the North, Embu County to the North East, East and South, Murang’a County to the South West, and Nyeri County to the West.
The name Kirinyaga is the origin of the country’s name, Kenya. The European Explorer, Johann Ludwig Krapf, in his expedition came across a huge mountain in Kikuyu land known as Kirima Kiri Nyaga. His guide, a celebrated Kamba trader, Chief Kivoi from Kitui, told Krapf that the mountain was called Kii Nyaa, the Kamba translation of the kikuyu Kiri Nyaga. Krapf would record this as Kenya. The mountain came to be known as Mt. Kenya. Later, when the British partitioned East Africa, they named the new country Kenya.
According to the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census, the population was 528,054 people with a population density of 357 people per kilometer square and an annual growth rate of 1.5%. Age Distribution was; 0-14 years 33.2%, 15-64 years 61.5% and 65+ years 5.4%.
Its capital is Kerugoya with other major towns being Sagana and Wang’uru. Urban centres are Kagio and Kagumo.
It covers an area of 1,479.1Km2 according to the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census.
The County is divided into five Sub Counties namely; Kirinyaga East, Kirinyaga West, Mwea East, Mwea West and Kirinyaga Central. The Sub Counties are further sub-divided into 12 Divisions, 30 Locations and 81 Sub-Locations.
Temperatures range from a minimum of 12°C to a maximum of 26°C with an average of 20°C. The rainfall ranges between 1,100mm and 1,250mm per annum.
The total road network of in the county is 1,109.11 Km, out of which 106.5 Km is bitumen, 462.05 Km is gravel and 540.5 Km is earth surface. The county has an established road network with 7 major roads traversing through it namely; Makutano – Embu road, Kutus – Karatina road, Baricho road, Kiburu road, Kutus – Sagana road, Kutus – Kianyaga road and Kabare – Kimunye road.
There is only a 5km of railway line and one railway station in the county located in Ndia Constituency but currently not in use.
There is one airstrip located in Mwea constituency.
Education and Literacy:
As at 2007, the County had 388 primary schools with a total enrolment of 103,006 pupils and a teacher to pupil ratio of 1:37. There were 123 secondary schools with a total enrolment of 23,151 and a teacher to pupil ratio of 1: 23.
The flagship Tertiary institution in the County is Kirinyaga University College. It is located along the Kerugoya – Kutus highway, 115 km North East of Nairobi, and is a constituent college of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. The University commenced as a technical college, but through the Legal notice 108 of 2011 it became a University College.
Others are University Satellite Campus, Youth Polytechnics, Teacher Training Colleges, Medical Training College, Technical Colleges, and Several Commercial Colleges.
Kirinyaga County has 17 bank branches belonging to all major commercial banks in the country and 8 Micro-finance institutions. There are 18 Building societies and a presence of 5 insurance companies.
There are a total of 168 health facilities spread across the county. The county has one Level Four Hospital and 2 Level-three hospitals. There are 12 level-two (Health Centres) and 63 level-ones (dispensaries) which are well distributed within the county. The rest of the facilities are 6 Nursing Homes, 1 Dental Clinic, 2 Eye Centres and 3 non classified.
Prevalent Diseases: Malaria, Respiratory Systems Diseases, Skin Diseases.
Notable Hospitals: Kerugoya Level Four Hospital, Kianyaga and Kimbimbi Sub-District Hospitals(Level Three).
The County is home to Mt. Kenya and lies between 1,158M in the South and 5,199M above sea level at the peak of Mt. Kenya. Towering at 5,199M above sea level, Mount Kenya is a breathtaking view with its white snow capped peaks, hanging and V-shaped valleys and a well endowed thick, indigenous forest with unique species of trees that ring it. The Mt. Kenya Forest covers 350.7 Km2 and is inhabited by a variety of wildlife including elephants, buffaloes, monkeys, bushbucks and colourful birds while the lower parts of the forest zone provides grazing land for livestock.
The rich flora and fauna within the forest coupled with mountain climbing and camping are common tourist activities. The county has four major tourist hotels with The Castle hotel situated deep in the forest leading the pack.
Other tourist attractions include;
Ndaraca Ya Ngai (Bridge of God) which is a natural bridge hidden amidst the scenic view of Mt. Kenya. It is just a drive away from the Nairobi – Embu highway.
Mwomboko Kenya Dancers, a dancing troupe was formed in the 1940’s. The group resides from Mukuura, Ndia – in Kirinyaga county. The name comes from the Kikuyu traditional dance known as Mwomboko. The group educates the public on the kikuyu culture through dance and music.
Thingira Cultural Village
Built on an 18 hectares piece of land, Thingira village teaches about the origin of Kikuyu, Meru, Kamba and Embu. It is located within a semi arid area of rocky indigenous acacia thicket along the Nairobi – Embu highway across the Tana River Bridge near Makutano junction in the County.
The main economic activities include rice, tea, coffee, horticulture farming, fishing and commercial businesses.
Agriculture is the predominant economic activity in the county. It is the leading sub sector in terms of employment, food security, income earnings and overall contribution to the socio-economic well being of the people. Rice and Tea are the main cash crops in the county.
The county has six major rivers precipitated by the snow melting from Mt. Kenya making Kirinyaga a rich agricultural land. The rivers which all drain into Tana River are: Sagana, Nyamindi, Rupingazi, Thiba, Rwamuthambi and Ragati. These rivers are the principal source of water in the county and their waters have been harnessed through canals to support irrigation at the lower areas of the county.
The total arable land in the County is 116,980Ha which represent 79 percent of the total area. Main crops cultivated include rice which is grown in paddles in the low lands. It is home to Mwea Irrigation Scheme, Kenya’s largest irrigation scheme which is supplied by water from river Nyamindi and Thiba.
The scheme led to the establishment of Mwea Rice Mills Ltd in 1969. Popularly referred to as MRM, it is the main producer and key miller of the Kenyan Pishori rice.
Tea is grown in the upper parts while Coffee is grown in the upper and middle zones. There are five established tea factories; Thumaita Tea Factory, Kangaita Tea Factory, Mununga Tea Factory, Ndima Tea Factory and Kimunye Tea Factory. The approximate number of tea farmers in Kirinyaga County is 40,000 who produce around 95 million kilogrammes of tea in a year.
Other major crops grown include bananas, tomatoes, beans, mangoes, maize and horticultural crops.
Fish farming is another major economic activity adopted by the county with a total of 1,281 fishponds spread throughout the county. Green Algae Highlands Fish Farm, located in Sagana is the most iconic. The fish farm is the leading producer of the ornamental fish in the whole country and practises Poly culture; an inter-breed of two ﬁsh species. The farm hosts University students on educational tours and visitors worldwide interested in fish farming.
With the adoption of the new constitution in 2010 which ushered in the devolved system of governance, the Governor is the Executive authority in the County together with his deputy, the Senator is to represent the County at the Senate and through affirmation of women and youth rights, the Woman Representative is to represent the County’s women and youth issues at the National Assembly.
GOVERNOR : ANN MUMBI WAIGURU
DEPUTY GOVERNOR : PETER NDAMBIRI NJAGI
SENATOR : CHARLES REUBENSON KIBIRU
WOMEN REPRESENTATIVE : PURITY WANGUI NGIRICI
Kirinyaga County has four (4) constituencies; Mwea, Gichugu, Ndia and Kirinyaga Central. The constituencies are further divided into 20 electoral wards. Mwea Constituency has the highest with 8 wards, followed by Gichugu with 5, Kirinyaga Central with 4 and Ndia with 3.