Geography, Land-Use, Highlights, Population, Roads, Airports, Climate & National Monuments in Vihiga County
Geography of Vihiga County
Vihiga County is found within the Western Region of Kenya in the Lake Victoria Basin. Hence, it slopes gently from west to east. Generally speaking, Vihiga has undulating hills and valleys with streams, flowing from northeast to southwest, that drain into Lake Victoria. It has two main agro-ecological zones – the upper and lower midlands – and these zones chiefly dictate the land-use patterns and population settlement. The upper midland zone comprising of Hamisi, Sabatia and parts of Vihiga is well-drained and has high potential for crop farming like tea, coffee, maize, beans and bananas. The lower midland that’s comprised of Emuhaya and Luanda with loamy sand soil and basaltic rocks is less productive.
Land Use in Vihiga County
In terms of land use, 98% of the land in Vihiga County is under farming, mostly subsistence farming, while 1.3% is under housing. The main land-use types in Vihiga include; livestock, crop farming, tree plantations, fish farming and for settlements. Other land-use activities are soil mining for brick making and pot making, as well as, house construction. Sand and stone harvesting is another activities for which land is put to use. The increase in settlement areas reduces available arable land for livelihood activities. Most farming is in the rural areas.
Highlights in Vihiga County
Vihiga has great potential for tourism. Its sites include forests, scenic hills and heritage areas including the Mungoma Cave, birding sanctuaries and Wagevere Rocks embossed with footprints at Matsigulu. Vihiga County also has a diverse and vibrant culture, with Maragoli festival, observed annually, being epitomized with pomp. Further opportunities exist in the development of cultural tourism. Inadequate entrepreneurial skills, limited land space, inadequate infrastructure and access to credit are the main challenges impeding development of tourism.
Population of Vihiga County
According to the 2009 Census, Vihiga County had a population of 554,622 and a population density of 1,044 persons / km2 – which is one of the highest in Kenya. Male:female ratio is 47.8 % and 52.2%. The population is estimated to have grown to 572,577 persons in 2012 and was projected to grow to 603,856 persons in 2017. Its population density has grown to 1,078 persons / km2, in comparison to the national average of 66 persons per / km2. The main urban centres are Mbale, Chavakali, Jeptulu, Vihiga and Luanda, whose estimated population in 2012 was 92,881, and which was projected to be 106,908 by 2017.
Airports in Vihiga County
Vihiga County has no working airstrips and relies on the neighbouring Kisumu County for flight service. Its airstrip at Kaimosi and Hamisi are not operational.
Roads in Vihiga County
The road network in Vihiga County is reasonably good. The county’s total road network in length is 1,058.2 km2. Bitumen roads cover 201 kms, gravel roads 373 kms, and earthen roads 483 kms. The A1 and B1 Roads cut through Vihiga.
Climate in Vihiga County
Vihiga experiences a high equatorial climate with well distributed rainfall year-round. Temperatures range between 14ºC to 32ºC. Long rains fall in March, April and May which are wettest, while short rains fall in September, October and November. The hottest months between December, January and February.
National Monuments in Vihiga County
There are no designated national monuments in Vihiga County