By Joseph Maina
About Meru County
Meru County is located on the Eastern side of the Mt Kenya covering 6,936 square kilometers. It is strategically placed bordering Isiolo County to the North, Tharaka County to the South West, Nyeri County to the South West and Laikipia County to the West. The county has a population of 1,356,301 million people.
The current governor of Meru County is Hon Kiraitu Murungi. The county capital is Meru town. The County has eight constituencies namely South Imenti, Central Imenti, North Imenti, Igembe South, Igembe North, Tigania East, Tigania West and Buuri.
Travelling to Meru
It will take you about five hours to travel to Meru from Nairobi by public transport vehicles. The journey of about 272 kilometres consists of at least one stopover.
PSV operators plying the route to Meru can be found along Accra Road, Nairobi, where you find an array of 10-seater shuttles and
14-seater matatus. They charge between Ksh500 to Ksh700. One can also board the Kensilver buses, an iconic brand that has plied the route for decades. The buses travel past Meru town to Maua.
In addition to Nairobi, Meru County is easily accessible by road to other major urban centres such as Nyeri, Embu, Nanyuki and Isiolo.
One can also fly to the Isiolo International Airport, which is jointly shared by Meru and Isiolo counties. As observed in the official county website, Meru County is served by two air facilities.
Currently, there exists no railway service linking Meru County.
Due to its proximity to Mt Kenya and Nyambene hills, the region generally enjoys favourable climatic conditions for agriculture. It has an altitude of approximately 5,199 metres above sea level, which contributes to cool temperatures. However the county ’s climatic diversity ranges from the escarpments of Mt Kenya Forest, which are very fertile, to the semi arid areas bordering Tharaka Nithi County and Ukambani and the arid Northern Kenya.
Combining its climate with favourable soils and a strong work ethic among the population living in the county, Meru has become a food powerhouse in the country. This was quite evident in our travels around the county. As stated by the county website, Meru is one of the most food secure counties in Kenya.
Agriculture is the main economic activity of the Ameru people. Besides crop farming, livestock rearing is a vibrant economic activity. Important cash crops in the county include the multi-billion shilling khat (miraa) grown in Maua and Nyambene areas. Meru is also the largest producer of bananas after Kisii County. Meru produces about 25 percent of Kenya tea, while coffee, pyrethrum, sisal, wheat and tobacco are important income earners.
Meru County arguably has some of the best-developed road infrastructure in the country. We saw this in our travels to the county. The county is well networked through major tarmac roads, which are in turn linked to feeder roads. The Great North Road linking Nairobi to the northern frontier passes through the county. In addition the LAPSSET corridor linking the Port of Lamu and Southern Sudan among other trading destination will pass through the County. This includes a major road, rail and pipeline.
Meru County is an academic powerhouse in the eastern region of Kenya. In addition to its primary and secondary schools, Meru is also home to number of middle level colleges and tertiary institutions and polytechnics. Some of the county’s top academic brands have a presence in Meru. They include the Kenya Methodist University, Mount Kenya University (KEMU), Meru University, Africa Nazarene University, University of Nairobi, JKUAT, Daystar and Chuka Universities among others.
Half of Mount Kenya sits in Meru County. Among its treasure trove of tourist attractions, the county has the Meru National park, The Lewa wildlife conservancy, and the Nyambene complex. It sits next to Mount Kenya national park, and Shaba National Reserve in the north. Sports tourism is also an important aspect of the county’s tourist activities. The Safaricom Lewa marathon is a key event in Meru every year.
Sports and recreation
Kinoru Stadium, located in Meru town, is an important sports facility in the county. In addition, Meru is a hotbed of baseball. Baseball penetrated Meru County in the 70s, where it was started by a group of Japanese nationals who were on assignment in the region under the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).