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Kisumu County

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Kisumu County

Kisumu County
Kisumo Pacho
The skyline of Kisumu City from Lake Victoria
The skyline of Kisumu City from Lake Victoria
Official logo of Kisumu County
Nickname(s): Kisumo
Location in Kenya
Location in Kenya
Country  Kenya
No. of sub-counties: 7 (Kisumu West, Kisumu Central, Kisumu East, Seme, Muhoroni, Nyando and Nyakach)
Kisumu County 4 March 2013
Capital Kisumu
 • Type Democratic
 • Governor Jakton Ranguma (ODM)
 • Deputy Governor Ruth Odinga
 • Senator Prof Anyang' Nyong'o
 • Women Representative Rose Nyamunga
 • Total 2,085.9 km2 (805.4 sq mi)
Population (2009)
 • Total 968,879
 • Density 460/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)

Kisumu County is one of the new devolved counties of Kenya. Its borders follow those of the original Kisumu District, one of the former administrative districts of the former Nyanza Province in western Kenya. Its headquarters is Kisumu City. It has a population of 968,909 (according to the 2009 National Census). The land area of Kisumu County totals 2085.9 km² [1].

Kisumu County's neighbours are Siaya County to the West Vihiga County to the North, Nandi County to the North East and Kericho County to the East. Its neighbour to the South is Nyamira County and Homa Bay County is to the South West. The county has a shoreline on Lake Victoria, occupying northern, western and a part of the southern shores of the Winam Gulf.


  • Etymology 1
  • Geography 2
  • Climate 3
  • Government 4
  • Economy 5
    • Fishing 5.1
    • Agriculture 5.2
    • Industry 5.3
    • Services 5.4
    • Transport and Communications 5.5
      • Transport 5.5.1
      • Communications 5.5.2
    • Tourism 5.6
  • Education 6
  • Health 7
  • People 8
  • Notable residents 9
  • Villages and settlements 10
  • External links 11


The name Kisumu comes from the Luo word "Kisuma". Generally, Kisuma means "a place where people meet to exchange goods" but it does not necessarily mean the same word as "market" (chiro in Luo). The term was especially used during famine where a person could " visit" relatives who had some short of harvest where the "visitor" when going back to his/her place could be "escorted with" or given some grains and dried meat (aliya in Luo). The word originally comes from the verb "sumo", which means "getting the left-overs from a farm after the harvest". When Europeans and Indians came to the area of the present-day city of Kisumu, pronouncing the name "Kisuma" correctly proved difficult, and the name evolved into the current Kisumu. The local people however, now popularly call the place "Kisumo".


Kisumu County stretches from the Nandi escarpment in the East to the Kano Plains in the middle all the way to the hills of the West. The Kano Plain is perhaps its most famous feature, sporting black cotton soil that is very fertile. The county has several inselbergs, mostly in the Kisian Area. Several rock outcrops also exist, the most famous of them being Kit Mikayi in Seme Sub-county. Kit Mikay consists of several rocks piled onto each other with several caves inside. But Kit Mikayi is neither the only, or the largest piled rock in the county.


The climate of the whole county is modified by the presence of the lake. The county has an annual relief rainfall that ranges between 1200 mm and 1300 mm in different sectors. The rain mainly falls in two seasons. Kisumu is known for its thunderstorms, which are the major type of precipitation and normally occur in mid-afternoon during the rainy season.

Kisumu is warm throughout the year with a mean annual temperature of 23. 0C. The temperature ranges between 20 0C and 35 0C but seldom falls below 19 0C. The humidity is relatively high throughout the year.http:[//]


The first and current governor of Kisumu County is Jakton Ranguma. He is deputised by Ruth Odinga, sister to the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The legislature of the county is called the County Assembly and has 35 representatives. For administrative purposes, the county is divided into 7 sub-counties, each following the borders of the constituency which bears a similar name. The sub-counties are further divided into 35 wards, which also forward representatives to the County Assembly in Kisumu City.

Sub-counties in Kisumu
Name Population* Area (km²)
Kisumu East 150,124 135.90
Kisumu West 131,246 212.90
Kisumu Central 168,892 32.70
Seme 98,805 190.20
Nyando 141,037 413.20
Muhoroni 145,764 667.30
Nyakach 133,041 357.30
Sources: [2]



The water hyacinth that chokes Lake Victoria

Kisumu County sits on the shores of Lake Victoria, providing it with the potential to be a major centre of fishing. However, the use of old technologies hampers the full development of the industry. Also, the recent water hyacinth menace on the lake has reduced fish catches significantly. The new county government has pledged to fight the hyacinth problem.


Rice is grown under irrigation in the Kano Plains. Most of the water for irrigation comes from River Nyando, whose annual floods displace huge numbers of people but also deposit a lot of fertile silt all across the plain. The northern and eastern fringes of the Kano Plains also play host to some of Kenya's most productive sugarcane fields. Towns like Kibos, Miwani and Chemelil are centres of sugarcane production. Kisumu County also produces maize, beans, sweet potatoes, poultry and fresh vegetables.


Kisumu city and the surrounding areas have several light industries. These include textiles, molasses, fish processing plants and agricultural produce processors. Kisumu has 4 sugar factories, at Chemelil, Muhoroni , Kibos and Miwani. However , the mill at Miwani is not operational after its original owners abandoned it in the year 1988. Also present in the main industrial area is a large scale maize milling company. Several backyard industries also thrive in the county, including tailoring, making of handicrafts and boat-building.


Kisumu city is the major commercial centre in Western Kenya. Service industries like wholesale & retail trade, bicycle repair, car repair, entertainment centres and low scale IT services abound within and outside the city. Several banks have their regional offices in the city, servicing the entire western Kenya region.

Transport and Communications


Water transport on Lake Victoria

Kisumu county has several paved roads, the major one being the Nairobi-Bondo road, which has a branch at Kisian heading to Busia. Important roads are paved with asphalt. County roads are mostly murram but provide all weather movement all year. Public transport services are provided by matatus and buses either operating singly or as parts of franchises and companies. Bicycle and motorcycle boda-bodas also exist in significant quantities for short distance travel.

The city of Kisumu was founded as a terminal for the railway, and therefore has an important railway station. The narrow gauge railway moves both passengers and cargo, linking Kisumu with other cities and towns along the line. The new national government has pledged to build a new modern metro network for the city.

Water transport on the lake is provided mostly by private operators in wooden boats with outboard engines, although a ferry service exists. The services connect towns on the shores and also help in crossing the lake. They also link the county with the other three lakeside counties and the countries of Tanzania and Uganda. The port of Kisumu is very inactive at the moment but has the potential to become a regional centre of lake transport and a gateway for Kenya into the rest of the African Great Lakes region.

Kisumu International Airport has been upgraded and now has the potential to be an entreport for the entire region. Schedule flights land from Nairobi, Mombasa and several cities in neighbouring countries.


Mobile phone penetration is high, and the coverage by the major service providers (Safaricom, Airtel, Orange and Yu) is basically reliable. The post offices in the county still function. Courier services also exist, providing quick ways of sending parcels and letters outside the county.


Kisumu County is fast developing into a major tourist destination in the Western Tourism Circuit of Kenya. Replete with great scenery and diversity concentrated within a relatively small area, Kisumu County's tourism sector is expected to experience a major boom.

Features like the shoreline of Lake Victoria, Kit Mikayi and other rocks of similar stature, Ndere Island National Park (which hosts an amazing variety of wildlife within a confined area), the God Mesa viewpoint in Nyabondo (from which one has a panoramic view of the Nyando Plains and Lake Victoria in the distance, and the inselbergs around the Kisian area provide a great attraction for tourists. The Kisumu Museum and the Impala Park provide further tourist attractions. Kisumu is touted to have one of the best sunsets in the world, and arguably the best in Kenya, with the sun sinking into the horizon over the lake turning the water into many hues, a spectacle that continues to drive up tourist numbers into the county.

The Kisumu International Airport now has the potential to deliver international tourists directly into the county, and it is expected that this will be a major boon for the industry in the county. Tourist infrastructure, like hotels and lodges, are now springing up in many places.


The Kisumu Campus of the University of Nairobi

Kisumu County has several colleges and universities, including a campus of Kenya's largest university, Nairobi University. Other universities include Maseno Universitiy (best known for its IT department), Great Lakes University and several teaching and nursing colleges. Primary and secondary education is provided by 706 primary schools and 173 public secondary schools, including two of the oldest secondary schools in Kenya; Maseno School . A substantial number of private institutions also exist within the county.

The enrollment in primary school and secondary school stood at 240, 538 and 38, 815 as of 2009. The teacher to pupil ratio was 1:51 for primary and 1:30 for secondary. Kisumu Polytechnic provides several technical courses for young adults and also professionals, including some diploma courses. 5 youth polytechnics also exist in various parts of the county.


Health in Kisumu County is provided by several institutions that are either private or government funded. There is one teaching and referral hospital, 5 County referral hospital, 14 sub-county hospitals, 74 dispensaries and 18 health centres in the county. The naming system has been changed due to the fact that the system of government has changed and Kenya is now operating a devolved system of government. The county government shall now fully responsible for health service delivery to residents in the county through health facilities and pharmacies as enshrined in Schedule 4 of the Constitution of Kenya (2010). . The Infant Mortality Rates for Kisumu County is relatively high, at 95/1000. The under five mortality rates for the county are 149/1000. The maternal mortality has been estimated to be 590 per 100,000 live births

The location of Kisumu County puts it in major breeding ground for mosquitos, and malaria has been a perennial problem since time immemorial. Another health problem that majorly affects the county is the relatively high rates of HIV infection. But the rate has stabilised at 19.0%. Key health facilities in the county are Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (popularly known as Russia since it was built by the Soviets), the Kisumu County Referral Hospital and the Aga Khan Hospital Kisumu. All facilities are located in Kisumu City. There are two CDC funded centres in Kisumu, one in Kisian and the other in Kombewa. They engage in research in several diseases which affect the local communities, including HIV and malaria.


Population Density in Kisumu County

Kisumu County is relatively densely populated compared with the rest of Kenya. The 2009 census showed that the county had a population of 968,909. With an area of 2,085.9 km2, Kisumu County has a population density of 460 per square kilometres, comparable to that of the entire South Korea. The vast majority of the people belong to the Luo ethnic community, the third largest tribe in Kenya and one of the largest in East Africa. There are also small numbers of minorities from the other ethnic communities of Kenya, predominantly the Luhya. Indians came with the railway construction, and now form a substantial Indian community in Kisumu city. The dominant language is Dholuo, but Kiswahili and English are also spoken by a majority of the population for non-domestic purposes.

The people of Kisumu eat a lot of fish prepared in a variety of ways. This high consumption has sometimes been touted as one of the causes of the generally high IQ levels in the region, and the eating of fish has become popular all over Kenya as a result.This is usually accompanied by ugali, a dish made of maize flour which can also be mixed with other grains, mostly millet, sorghum and/or cassava. Vegetables are also eaten.

Notable residents

Villages and settlements

External links

  • Map of Kisumu County

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