County Headquarters: Embu Town
Population: 543,221 (2009 Census)
The county is Metropolitan with Embu as the dominant tribe.
The main economic activity of Embu county is Agriculture.
The current governor is Martin Wambora
Embu County Constituencies
The county has four constituencies:
- Mbeere North
- Mbeere South
Embu County is one of the 47 counties of Kenya. It lies some 120 kilometers north east of Nairobi, on south-eastern side of Mount Kenya. The capital of Embu County, Embu town, is largely metropolitan since it was formerly the Eastern province headquarters. The town is growing at a fast rate. The county borders Kirinyaga to the West, Kitui to the East, Tharaka Nithi to the North and Machakos to the South. The County occupies an area of 2,818 km2. It is divided into four constituencies namely; Manyatta, Runyenjes, Mbeere North and Mbeere South which will form Sub-Counties.
Embu County slopes from North-West towards East and South-East with a few isolated hills such as Kiambere, Kianjiru and Kiang’ombe which rise above the general height and slope. The County is characterised by highlands and lowlands. It rises from about 515m above sea level at the Tana River basin in the East to over 4,570m above sea in the North West which is part of Mt. Kenya. Embu County is served by six major rivers, four of them, Thũci, Tana, Kiĩ and Rũvingasĩ form part of the Embu County’s boundaries. The other two rivers are Thiba and Ĩna. All these rivers are perennial. Between Embu town and Thũci river lies an area with an altitude ranging from 910m to 1,525m above sea level. The Southern part of the County is covered by Mwea plains. It then rises Northwards,culminating in hills and valleys to the Northern and Eastern parts.
Embu County’s population is 608,599 according to the on the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census (KPHC).
THE PEOPLE OF EMBU COUNTY
The Aembu people, who share key cultural and traditional values with the Kikuyu and Meru are mainly farmers. Many of them live in the well-watered northern side around Runyenjes, Embu and Manyatta towns. Tea and coffee are the community’s main cash crops. They also grow food crops such as maize, beans, sorghum, cassava, millet, horticultural crops and substantial dairy keeping.
Mbeere people are to be found around Siakago, Ishiara, Kanyuambora and Kiritiri towns. They mostly practice small scale farming, bee keeping and livestock rearing. Ishiara market is in particular popular for being the largest goat market in the region. Living on the lower side with relatively low rainfall, Mbeeres grows cash crops such as cotton and food crops such as maize, cow peas, beans, pigeon peas and green grams.
The Akamba people live in lower parts of Embu County around Makima. While they are natively known for their carving and basketry skills, Kambas also do a lot of subsistence farming, bee keeping and goat-rearing in Embu. Some of the crops growing in the area include cowpeas, green grams, sorghum, millet among others.
The Kikuyu people living in Embu County are mainly traders, business people and civil servants working in government corporations and institutions. Apart from being skillful in entrepreneurship, the Kikuyus also like farming and a number of them have bought land and settled in the peripheries of Embu town.
RELIGION AND CULTURE
Majority of people living in Embu County are Christians. There are numerous churches and ministries, with mainstream churches such as A.C.K, Roman Catholic and P.C.E.A having the largest following. Evangelicals include Deliverance, P.E.F.A and Full Gospel Churches among others. There are a few Muslims residing mainly in major towns. In Embu town for instance, Muslims live in Dallas estate.
Embu Town is the most developed urban center and administrative capital of Embu County.
Primarily a civil servants’ city, the towns’ population has drastically risen over the last 10 years attracting a real estate boom.
Located towards the border of Embu and Tharaka Nithi counties, Runyenjes town is an important trading center between the two counties. It lies some 30 kilometers from Embu town, and is a significant marketplace for small-scale farmers drawn from the surrounding townships.
Set just below Kiang’ombe hills some 25 kilometers south of Embu town, Siakago is a key trading center for agricultural and livestock products, mostly serving Mbeere people.
Located some 30 kilometers south of Embu town along Matuu-Mwingi road, Kiritiri has been growing rapidly, owing to its proximity to the famous 7 forks hydroelectric power dams. The regions surrounding the town are also popular with livestock, especially goat keeping, making the town a significant marketplace.
Embu County is divided into five sub-Counties; namely, Embu West with headquarters at Embu town, and Embu North with headquarters at Manyatta. These two form Manyatta constituency, Embu East with headquarters at Runyenjes, Mbeere North with headquarters at Siakago, and Mbeere South with headquarters at Kiritiri market.
The rainfall pattern is bi-modal with two distinct rainy seasons.Long rains occur between March and June while the short rains fall between October and December. Rainfall quantity received varies with altitude averaging to about 1067.5mm annually and ranging from 640mm in some areas to as high as 1,495mm per annum. At higher altitudes, (above 1700m), the pattern changes to tri-modal. Temperatures range from a minimum of 12 °C in July to a maximum of 30 °C in March with a mean of 21 °C. The extensive altitudinal range of Embu County influences temperatures that range from 20 °C to 30 °C.July is usually the coldest month with an average monthly temperature of 15 °C while September is the warmest month with an average monthly temperature rising to 27.1 °C. There is however localised climate in some parts of the County especially the Southern region due to their proximity to the Masinga, Kamburu, Gĩtaru, Kĩndaruma and Kĩambere dams.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND ACCESS
Roads and Airstrips
Embu County has an expansive road network with coverage of 914.3 km earth surface, 402 km of ground surface and 120 km of tarmac including the Meru-Embu Highway and Embu-Kĩrĩtirĩ road. Most of the earth surface roads in Embu County are impassable during rain seasons and need to be either graveled or tarmacked.
Embu County is also host to one Airstrip located at Don Bosco in Embu town.
Posts and Telecommunications
The posts and telecommunications sector is well developed in Embu County. It has two post offices at Embu and Runyenjes and 13 sub-post offices in major trading centres.
Embu County also has a 98 per cent mobile network coverage.
EDUCATION AND ICT
The County was the first to employ Early Childhood Development Education [ECDE] teachers in Kenya. Since January 2014,483 ECDE teachers were employed. There was opening of 10 youth polytechnics: Mutuobare, Mbonzuki, Makawani, Kiamuringa, Munyori, Makima, Kibugu, Kamutu, Muvandori and Kavutiri. There was also procurement of state of the art equipment of the 32 youth polytechnics in the County. Education Bursary for the needy County students in Secondary schools, youth polytechnics, tertiary institutions and Universities. The County has advertised for land on which to build Youth polytechnics in Nembure, Gitare,Gatumbi and Kithimu. The County is in its final stages of connecting all sub-county headquarters with fibre optic connectivity and putting up digital villages and hot spots. This will largely boost the economy of Embu County by opening up the Local and International markets for all stakeholders especially for farmers to sell their produce online.
The county has a health infrastructure consisting of both public and private facilities. It is the host to Embu Provincial General Hospital and three district hospitals; Runyenjes, Siakago and Ishiara. There are also a large number of smaller health facilities across the county. The main aim of health sector is to create an enabling environment for the provision of sustainable quality health care that is affordable and accessible to the residents. The sector comprises Medical Services, Public Health and Sanitation, Research and Development sub-sectors. Embu County has adhered to the Ministry of Health policy by providing subsidized services, which are affordable to the community. There exists a waiver/ exemption system for those who cannot afford minimized user fees. To Improve access and utilization of health services, the county has opened more dispensaries and health centers as a way of rolling out more services to the community. Upgrading the existing facilities to offer expanded services has been in the forefront to meet community needs. Collaborating with other partners to offer more and affordable Health services has been inevitable. Early 2014 the county distributed drugs to all health centers in the county and purchased ambulances to aid the community to easily access health services.
Agriculture is the backbone and livelihood of the people of Embu County. The sector employs 70.1 per cent of the population and 87.9 per cent of the households are engaged in Agricultural activities. The upper part of Embu County relies mainly on cash crops such as coffee and tea while the lower part mainly produces food crops such as maize, beans, cow peas, bananas, sorghum, tomatoes, pawpaw, avocado and citrus fruits.
The total acreage under food crops is about 14,000 ha compared to the total acreage under cash crops of 19’000 ha. The County heavily relies on Agriculture as the source of livelihood for its people and also as the main economic activity.
Livestock farming is gaining popularity with the revival of milk cooperatives and investment by private sector on milk processing plants. Dairy farming is concentrated in the upper parts of the County while in the lower parts indigenous breeds are reared. The main types of animals reared include cattle,goats, sheep and chicken. Rabbit rearing has also become an attractive venture to the farmers.
The main types of fish in the County include; trout, tilapia, mud fish and cat fish which are available mostly in the hydroelectric dams. The government through the Economic Stimulus Program has constructed 200 fish ponds in each of the four constituencies and the fish harvested is usually sold locally. The Ministry of Fisheries Development has not only supervised the construction of fish pond but also supplied fish food and fish fingerlings to the farmers.
Tourism is a key sub-sector that has a high potential in the County for both local and international tourists. Some of the available sites include caves, waterfalls and rocky hills for rock climbers. The County is also a gateway to Mt. Kenya which, if aggressively marketed can bring huge incomes to the County. The County is also hosts to a number of hydro-electric power dams which are a source of tourist attraction for both local and international tourists. The major dams that generate hydroelectric power for the Country are partly in Embu County. These dams include Kiambere, Gitaru, Kindaruma and Masinga all of which are situated along the Tana River.
Two National reserves namely; Mwea and Mt. Kenya that are managed by KWS have great potential for the tourism industry in the County. Other potential tourist attractions include the Nthenge Njeru water falls near Kirimiri. There are a variety of wildlife species such as elephants, buffaloes, lions, bush bulks, baboons, hippos, Columbus monkeys and numerous species of birds.
One of the major challenges in Embu County has been the road network which is currently under construction. Major ring-roads connecting major towns are being graded for tarmacking. While other small figure roads have been graded and are being fitted with murram. Access to water for domestic purposes and farming has been a great challenge. However, Embu County has initiated a program dubbed ‘Water for Children’ which is set to ensure all public institutions i.e. schools, health institutions, bus parks, markets etc. have access to clean water. Already, through this project 6,000 new domestic connections have been made. In addition, through the Ministry of Agriculture in Embu County, new irrigation projects have been started especially drip irrigation which has boosted Agricultural produce in the County. Such irrigation projects are in Mbeere South and Mbeere North constituencies which are the semi-arid areas in Embu County.
Embu County is naturally endowed with plenty of land. It slopes on the Eastern side of Mt.Kenya which is less steep which makes it ideal for fast climbing of Mt. Kenya. It is also ideal for people with disabilities. Five of the seven forks dams are in Embu County and they have been sighted as ideal for water sports such as kayaking. 3,000 acres of land have been set aside for putting up of an industrial park in Machang’a Mbeere South Constituency while Manyatta Constituency will host the Small Medium Enterprise (SME) park. Embu City is in its initial stages of design and construction. Embu County is setting up a talent academy in Embu city and a high altitude training camp in Kigari, Manyatta constituency. Embu County is known for macadamia owing to the fact that it is the largest producer of macadamia in the African Great Lakes. Therefore, the County is putting up a macadamia factory in Manyatta constituency for value addition on the product.
Embu County plans to put up tented camps in Mwea National Reserve. Climbing Mt. Kenya through Embu is easier and faster since the route is less steep therefore the County plans to put up some lodges near this route for Mountain climbers. The County is looking into partnering with investors to put up a planetarium in the area.