Fast Facts

Information

Kisii County is located to the south east of Lake Victoria and it borders six counties with Narok to the south, Migori to the west, Homa Bay to the north west, Kisumu to the north, Bomet to the south east and Nyamira to the east. Since 1989, the Gusii as a single ethnic group have occupied the Kisii, Gucha, Bobasi, Masaba and Nyamira districts of southwestern Kenya. The county has 9 sub-counties namely; Bobasi,Bonchari,Bomachoge,Borabu, Bomachoge Chache,Kitutu Chache north, Kitutu Chache South, Nyaribari Chache, Nyaribari Masaba and South Mugirango.

Topographical Information

The area is a rolling, hilly landscape on a plain reaching altitudes of 3,900 feet (1,190 meters) in the fa northwestern corner of the territory, and 6,990 feet (2,130 meters) in the central highlands. Average maximum temperatures range from 28.4° C at the lowest altitudes to 22.8° C at the highest elevations. The average minimum temperatures are 16.4° C and 9.8° C respectively. Rain falls throughout the year with an annual average of 150 to 200 centimeters. In the nineteenth century, much of present-day Gusiiland was covered by moist upland forest. Today, all forest has been cleared, very little indigenous (native) plants remain, and no large mammals are found.

The county is mostly hilly and is dissected by rivers flowing west into Lake Victoria, notably the Kuja and Mogusi. Lack of infrastructure like electricity, telecommunications and good roads inhibit the full exploitation of resources. The hilly nature of the county leads to serious soil erosion and makes road communication difficult, especially in the rainy season when many roads (only 10 per cent of which are tarmacked) become impassable.

Gusii lies on a highland equatorial climate, and as such it receives rain almost throughout the year, although there are two rainy seasons (March to May and October to November). Average rainfall is over 1,500 mm and is quite reliable, helping to support cash crops (coffee,tea, pyrethrum) and subsistence crops (maize, beans, millet, potatoes). Temperatures can range from 10ºC to 30ºC.

Economic Activities

Abundant rainfall and very fertile soils have made the county one of the most productive agricultural areas in Kenya. Between 70 -80% of the land is favorable for cultivation. Due to the high population density, almost all land in Gusii is put to maximum agricultural use and is subdivided among the families, meaning that they are becoming ever-smaller and the average farm is only 1.5 hectares in area.

Tea and coffee processing and soda bottling constitute Gusii 's manufacturing industry, but retail and wholesale businesses exist in market centres despite the lack of cooling facilities for preserving perishables. The annual growth rate in paid employment is 3.5 per cent, but this is barely keeping up with the current population growth rate.

There are many societies such as Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) concentrated in Kisii town according to members' occupations or primary cash crop as well. The informal sector is involved in repair, metal fabrication, furniture making and the sale of secondhand clothes, while the soapstone which is found in the area of Tabaka provides a reasonable resource for the carving industry.

Income is unevenly distributed, with an average income per capita of Ksh 2,000 (USD 25), although most appear to earn Ksh 1,000-1,500 (USD 12-18). Many live below the poverty line, but actual figures are available for urban areas only.