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Kenya Kisii District

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Kisii District

Kisii District is one of the twelve districts of Nyanza Province in southwest Kenya, and is divided into five local authorities and eleven administrative districts. The district capital is Kisii Town. The district is mostly hilly and is dissected by rivers flowing west into Lake Victoria, notably the River Gucha and River Mogusi. It lacks infrastructure like electricity, telecommunications and good roads, inhibiting the full exploitation of resources. The hilly nature of the district leads to serious soil erosion and makes road communication difficult, especially in the rainy season when many roads (only 10% of which are tarmacked) become impassable.

The Climate

Kisii district lies on a highland equatorial climate, and as such it receives rain almost throughout the year, although there are two rainy seasons (March to May and October to November). The average rainfall is over 1500mm and is quite reliable, helping to support cash crops (such as coffee, tea and pyrethrum) and subsistence crops (maize, beans, millet and potatoes). Temperatures can range from 10ºC to 30ºC.

Population

According to the 1979 census Kisii district had a population of 588,000, but by 1996 the annual population growth rate of 3.6% meant that the population is now well over 2,000,000 (19% of whom live in urban areas). This makes Kisii district one of the most densely populated in Kenya, with around 50% of the population being below the age of 15 years. The cause of high population growth is believed to be cultural practices of having many children for security in old age, leading to low use of family planning methods (acceptance is 60-65%). In most areas the sex ratio is disproportionate due to labour migration to other districts and cities.

Health

Health facilities are inadequate, unevenly distributed and lacking in essential medicines. There are a number of hospitals - including the government-run facility in Kisii town and the Mission Hospital in Tabaka - but the bed occupancy rate is 160.3%. The major diseases in Kisii are malaria, anaemia, pneumonia, meningitis, tuberculosis, measles and gastroenteritis. The first AIDS cases in Kenya were recognized in 1984 (1987 in Kisii district), but it is now believed that 1 in every 18 adults is infected with the HIV virus in all areas. Over 70% of AIDS cases are aged 20–49 years, the most economically active age group and also the best educated and skilled. Infant mortality has been declining for several years and the acceptance of immunization programs is increasing, but a large proportion of children are believed stunted due to poor nutrition. Water is easily available from rivers, wells, springs, roof catchments and boreholes, although the only treated water supply is found in Kisii Municipality. In recent years Kisii highland has had new water treatment stations among others one at Birongo serving parts of Nyaribari central and chache and also Kitutu Masaba.

Economy

Due to the high population density, almost all land in Kisii district is put to maximum agricultural use. Land is subdivided within families, meaning that plots are becoming ever-smaller and the average farm is only 15,000 m² in area. Intensive farming in hilly regions has increased the rate of soil degradation and erosion, while the application of farm chemicals has polluted surface and groundwater sources. More then 90% of rural household energy needs come from wood, but the district is no longer self-reliant and other sources such as biogas are being encouraged. Tea and coffee processing and soda bottling constitute Kisii district's manufacturing industry, but retail and wholesale businesses exist in market centres despite the lack of cooling facilities for preserving perishables. The annual growth rate in paid employment is 3.5%, but this is barely keeping up with the current population growth rate. There are many societies such as Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) concentrated in Kisii Town according to members' occupations or primary cash crop as well. The informal sector is involved in repair, metal fabrication, furniture making and the sale of secondhand clothes, while the soapstone which is found in the area of Tabaka provides a reasonable resource for the carving industry.

Income is unevenly distributed, with an average income per capita of Ksh. 2000 (approximately £20, US$30 in 2006), although most appear to earn Ksh. 1000-1500. Many live below the poverty line, but actual figures are available for urban areas only.

Education

In 1993 there were 679 primary schools and 134 secondary schools in the district, and enrollment is increasing. Most schools in Kisii district lack science laboratories and many teachers are not fully trained, reducing the ability of pupils to complete their education. Female enrollment in secondary school is at 45%, while adult literacy is 56% (high in relation to much of Kenya). However, given that fees for secondary school are in excess of Ksh. 5000 per year, for most children primary school is the highest level of education open to them. Private schools have grown in number in the district. They often do better in the region. Some parents perceive that public school teachers do not take their child's future seriously.

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