County General Information
Mandera County is one of the 47 counties in Kenya that was established in March 2013 following the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. It measures about 25,991 km2 and is located at the extreme end of North Eastern Kenya, bordering Somalia and Ethiopia. According to the 2009 population census, the county had an estimated population of 1,025,756 persons with 125,497 households and a density of 39 persons per km2. The population was projected to be 1,399,503 and 1,699,437 in 2017 and 2022 respectively, with a corresponding density of 50 and 64 persons per km2.
The main economic activity in Mandera County is pastoralism, contributing approximately to 72 percent of the total household income. Cross-border trade, artisanal mining, beekeeping and irrigation-aided agriculture are the other viable ventures. Beekeeping is gaining popularity in most parts of the county, while irrigated subsistence agriculture is practiced along the Daua River. The common breeds of livestock reared in Mandera County are goats, cattle, camels, sheep, donkeys and chickens.
- Position and Size
Mandera County is located in the North Eastern part of Kenya. It borders Ethiopia to the North, Somalia to the East and Wajir County to the South-West. The county lies between latitudes 20 11` North, and 40 17` North, and longitudes 390 47` East and 410 4.8` East. It covers an area of 25,991.5km2.
Map of Kenya Showing the Location of Mandera County
Source: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS)
- Physical and Topographic Features
Mandera County is characterized by low-lying rocky hills resting on the plains that rise gradually from 400m above sea level in the south at Elwak, to 970m above sea level on the border with Ethiopia. The rest of the topography is low-lying, characterized by dense vegetation with thorny shrubs of savannah type. This is especially found along the foot of isolated hills, covered by bushes, shrubs, boulders and the invasive prosopis juliflora (mathenge) shrubs. The flat plains make drainage very poor, causing flash floods during heavy rains. There are no lakes, swamps or dams, but earth pans are a common feature in the county. Daua River, whose source is the Ethiopian highlands, flows eastwards along the county’s boundary with Ethiopia, covering 150km along the border and passes through Malkamari, Rhamu Dimtu, Rhamu, Libehia, Khalalio and Township wards into Somalia at Border Point One (BP1). The Daua River basin spans an area of about 60,106km2 and bestrides on the three countries of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. About 9,119km2 of the basin area lies in Mandera County. Geographically, the catchment extends between 41.8840 – 38.4650 East and 3.9970 – 6.4560 North from the border to the origin of the catchment in southeastern Ethiopian highlands.
- Ecological Conditions
There are two ecological zones in the county namely, arid and semi-arid. Up to 95 percent of the county is semi-arid with dense vegetation consisting mainly of thorny shrubs and mathenge bushes along foots of isolated hills and fallow land. Mandera East, Mandera North, Mandera West, Mandera South and Banisa Constituencies are classified under ecological zones LM (IV-VI), while Lafey Constituency is classified under zone LM (V-VI) as tabulated below:
Table 1: County’s Ecological Zones
|County Sub-Region||Zone||Suitable Enterprises|
|Mandera East||LM (IV- VI)||Livestock keeping, irrigated agriculture along River Daua and drought tolerant crops|
|Mandera North||LM (IV- VI)||Livestock keeping, irrigated agriculture along River Daua and drought tolerant crops|
|Mandera West||LM (IV- VI)||Livestock keeping and drought tolerant crops|
|Mandera South||LM (IV- VI)||Livestock keeping and drought tolerant crops|
|Banisa||LM (IV- VI)||Livestock keeping, irrigated agriculture along River Daua and drought tolerant crops. Bee-keeping is also gaining popularity|
|Lafey||LM (V- VI)||Livestock keeping, irrigated agriculture along River Daua and drought tolerant crops|
|Kutullo||LM (IV- VI)||Livestock keeping and drought tolerant crops|
- Climatic Conditions
Temperatures are high with a minimum of 24oC in July and a maximum of 42oC in February. Variation in altitude is the cause of differences in temperatures across the county, where places near Banisa Constituency experience low temperatures due to neighbouring highlands in Ethiopia. Rainfall is scanty and unpredictable, averaging 191.7mm annually. The long rains fall in April and May averaging 69.1mm, while the short rains fall in October and November averaging 122mm.
Most parts of the county experience long hours (approximately 11 hours) of sunshine in a day. This causes high evaporation rates, leading to withering of most of the vegetation before they mature. The continuous sunshine in the county has great potential for harnessing solar energy.