Kwale County

Kwale County is one of the six Counties in the coastal region. It borders Taita Taveta County to the North West, Kilifi County to the North East, Taita Taveta and Kilifi to the North, Mombasa County and Indian Ocean to the East and United Republic of Tanzania to the South. The County is located in the South-eastern corner of Kenya, lying between Latitudes 30 3‘and 40 45‘south and Longitudes 380 31‘and 390 31‘East.

The county covers an area of 8270.2 Km², of which 62 Km2 is under water. The area excludes the 200-miles coastal strip known as the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). The position of the county puts it in a strategic location for accelerated economic growth in the Kenyan Coast.

Kwale County has four major topographic features namely the Coastal Plain, the Foot Plateau, the Coastal Uplands and the Nyika Plateau.

 

The county also is known for its white sand beaches. These land formations is a buildup of eroded reef material, i.e. coral sand when it is deposited on the inshore side of the reef. It forms a stretch of coastline covering approximately 250 km.

The Coastal Uplands, commonly known as Shimba Hills rise steeply from the foot plateau at an altitude of between 135 to 462 meters above the sea level. This topographical zone is made up of many sand stones hills that include the Shimba Hills (420m), Tsimba (350m), Mrima (323m) and Dzombo (462m). This is an area of medium to high agricultural potential.

The county is divided into agro-ecological zones in terms of agricultural potential. Medium potential and marginal lands constitutes 15 per cent and 18 per cent of the total land area respectively. The rest 67 per cent is range, arid and semi-arid land suitable only for livestock and limited cultivation of drought resistant crops.

The total area covered by forests in the region is about 7 per cent, 54,544 hectares (35,043 hectares gazetted and 19,500 hectares not gazetted).

Along the coastal strip and the coastal uplands, land is mainly owned by absentee landlords, leading to the squatter settlement problem. The trust and government land within these areas have since been adjudicated and government settlement schemes established.

There are a number of indigenous forests commonly known as Kayas which are sacred sites and are maintained by the MijiKenda Councils of elders. Forestry is a major source of income, food and medicine to local communities. The many indigenous forests facilitate ecotourism by providing tourists with nature trails, scenic attraction, animal viewing, and bird and butterfly watching. They also provide wood and timber for construction purposes as well as charcoal on which over 90 percent of rural households depend. The mangrove forests sustain bee-keeping that produces high quality honey and provide shelter to some fish species and oysters. Additionally, mangrove poles are used in the making of fishing traps and in construction. Forests also provide raw materials for the manufacture of mosquito repellents, tooth brushes, glue, dyes, shampoos, soaps and rope.

The main contributor to environmental degradation in the county is solid waste such as plastic bags; bottles; cans; garden and kitchen waste; vegetable waste and oil waste, logging (charcoal burning), bush fire (burning vegetation by farmers), overgrazing, dumping of solid waste by the hotels next to the ocean.

Kwale County being a coastal region is prone to climate change such as emission of greenhouse gases that lead to rising temperature and sea-level rise.

The main tourist attraction sites are Shimba Hills National Reserve, Mwaluganje Sanctuary, marine reserves and parks, historic sites (Shimoni Holes and Diani Mosques) forest, coral and sandy beaches, bird habitat areas, hotels and turtle breeding grounds.

There still exist potential in this sector such as untapped cultural resources, plenty of potential tourist sites that could offer accommodation facilities and sport tourism. The dominant wildlife species include elephants, baboons, monkeys, buffalos, giraffes and sable antelope (only found in Shimba Hills in Africa).

ABOUT THE CHALLENGE

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NAIROBI-KENYA

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