Discover Uasin Gishu County
Brief Overview of Uasin Gishu County
Uasin Gishu’s landscape is generally flat. That of an undulating plateau with no impressive mountains or valleys. Its extended upland plain lies within the Lake Victoria catchment zone and all its rivers eventually drain into Lake Victoria. Some of the major streams in Uasin Gishu include Sosiani, Kipkaren, Nderugut, Daragwa and Sambu. The principal line of communication in the County is the A104 Mombasa-Uganda Road that bisects the lower half of area from Timboroa (southeast) to Eldoret Town (middle), from where it gradually turns northwest then west through Leseru and Kipkarren before reaching Webuye. Near Leseru, the B2 Eldoret-Kitale Road continues just west of north to Kitale Town through Matunda and Moi’s Bridge. A scenic but rarely used road, and which is a great alternative from Nakuru, is B53 Eldama Ravine-Nyaru-Kaptagat-Eldoret Road.
Owing to the favourable altitude, fertile soils and reliable rainfall, Uasin Gishu County is mainly agricultural in character, fairly marked by farmlands of maize, sunflower, wheat, pyrethrum and barley. The arable land covers 2,995 km2 of which 910 km2 is under maize, where 4.52 million bags are harvested annually, making this one of the most important cereal growing regions in Kenya. It also produces more than one-third of the total wheat in Kenya. Its forests cover 298 km2; 132 km2 is under plantation and 166 km2 hectares of indigenous forests. The forests mainly occupy the highest country in the northeast. Although much of Uasin Gishu County lies within one degree of the equator, daily temperatures are moderate and the climate is equitable throughout the year, since much of this region of Kenya stands at an altitude of more than 6,000 ft. above sea level.
There is a marked contrast in the landscape of Uasin Gishu County as you move from Eldoret Town, easterly heading, down the Kerio Escarpment, which links the cool and humid Uasin Gishu County with the warmer and semi-arid Elgeyo Marakwet County. The Nandi Hills, boldly lying between it and Kisumu County, make for an exceptional drive to appreciate their ecological gamut. Uasin Gishu County is also bounded to the north by the steep escarpments overlooking the Nzoia Valley, and to the west by smaller escarpments facing the Sosiani Valley. In the northeast corner of the area the Cherangani Hills rise steeply to heights exceeding 9,000 ft. In consequence the rainfall here is considerably higher than over Kitale plains and much of Uasin Gishu County, so that the higher parts of Cherangani are clothed in forests containing limited timber reserves of Cedar, Podo and mixed hardwoods. Bamboo thickets are abundant around 8,500 feet.
Salient Features of Uasin Gichu County
- County Number 27
- Area – 3345 km2
- Altitude – 2700 m
- Major Towns – Eldoret, Burnt Forest, Turbo
- Borders – T. Nzoia, E. Marakwet, Nandi, Kericho, Baringo, Kakamega
Brief History of Uasin Gishu County
The installation of the rail-head at Eldoret 381 kms northwest of Nairobi was a key turning point in the origination of Eldoret. Further, Kitale was linked to the main Kenya-Uganda line by a branch railway extending north from Leseru. At both towns sidings, go downs, stockyards as well as the usual trading facilities embracing banks, post offices, shops, hospitals and schools sprung rapidly. In turn, the blossoming of Eldoret was expedited by the activities of British and Afrikaner settlers from South Africa. Their settlement in Uasin Gishu County gave rise to services such as security and transport. In 1908, the sitting District Commissioner awarded a contract for the construction of the DC’s residence, administrative offices, and stores in Eldoret Town. The newly-built centre was originally known as “Farm 64” which was the survey map number for this zone. Fertile soils, favourable climate, railway and mechanization of farming led to an exponential growth of Eldoret Town and its environs. In November 1912, Farm 64 was renamed as Eldoret (its current name) which covers an area of 11.2 km2.