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Garissa County

Garissa County is one of the three counties in the North Eastern region of Kenya. It covers an area of 44,174.1Km2 and lies between latitude 10 58’N and 20 1’ S and longitude 380 34’E and 410 32’E. The county borders the Republic of Somalia to the east, Lamu County to the south, Tana River County to the west, Isiolo County to the North West and Wajir County to the north.

Garissa County is basically flat and low lying without hills, valleys and mountains. It rises from a low altitude of 20m to 400m above sea level. The major physical features are seasonal rivers popularly known as Lagas and the Tana River Basin on the western side. The soils range from the sandstones, dark clays to alluvial soils along the Lagas, River Tana Basin and the Lorian swamp.

The rest of the county has sandy soils that support scattered shrubs and grasslands which are ideal for livestock production. The county’s land is highly erodible.

Garissa County is principally a semi-arid area falling within ecological zone V-VI and receives an average rainfall of 275 mm per year. Given the arid nature of the county, temperatures are generally high throughout the year and range from 200C to 380C.

The county has a total population of 699,534 consisting of 375,985 males and 323,549 females as at 2012.

The mean holding size is not known since the land is communally owned. Less than one per cent of the population has title deeds. In terms of land use, the county’s population is predominantly pastoralists. This implies that the main land use is nomadic pastoralism. There are farming activities along River Tana with an average farm size of 1.3 hectares.

There are two non-gazetted indigenous forests in the county, namely Boni and Woodlands. Most of the forests in the county are woody trees and shrubs which are mainly browsed by camels and goats and to some extent by grazers. The main forest products are Gum Arabica, Resins, Poles/Posts, Firewood, Charcoal and Herbal Medicine.

Activities that have contributed greatly to environmental degradation in the county include: illegal encroachments and settlements, logging and over-grazing, mushrooming of settlements on grazing land, increase in population, climate change, influx of refugees and charcoal burning. Frequent floods during rainy season have also contributed greatly to environmental degradation.

The county has a high potential for tourism development. The potential include a wide range of wildlife species such as, Hirola, lions, giraffes, tigers and zebras, a rich Somali traditional culture and a highly developed hospitality industry in Garissa Town.


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