Meru County is one of the Forty-Seven (47) counties of Kenya strategically located east of Mt. Kenya, whose peak cuts through the outskirt of its southern boundary. The county has a total area of 6,936.2Km2 out of which 972.3Km2 is gazetted forest. The county borders five counties; to the North it borders Isiolo County, to the East Tharaka/Nithi County, to the South West Nyeri County and to the West Laikipia County. It spans the equator lying 0o6’ North and 0o1’ South and between latitudes 37o West and 38o East.
Population size and composition
The County’s population growth rate is estimated at 2.1 per cent per annum. The projected population of the county in 2018 is 1,635,264, consisting of 808,596 males and 826,668 females as shown in table 3 below. The county population is projected to grow to 1,703,945 in 2020 and 1,775,511 in 2022. The growth in population will be a strain on available resources. The county’s position on the eastern slopes of Mt Kenya and the equator has highly influenced its natural conditions. Altitude ranges from 300m to 5,199m above sea level. This has influenced the atmospheric conditions leading to a wide variety of microclimates and agroecological zones. The drainage pattern in the county is characterized by rivers and streams originating from catchment areas such as Mt. Kenya and Nyambene ranges in the North of the county. The rivers cut through the hilly terrain on the upper zones to the lower zones and drain into the Tana and Ewaso Nyiro Rivers. The rivers form the main source of water for both domestic and agricultural use.
The county has varied ecological zones ranging from upper highlands, lower highlands, upper midlands, and lower midlands. This has greatly influenced the major economic activities. The upper highlands zones cover majority of the county’s area ranging from Imenti South, Imenti Central, Imenti North, Part of Tigania East, Part of Tigania West, Igembe Central and Igembe South constituencies. The lower midland zones are only found in lower parts of Buuri, Igembe North and Tigania East and West which borders Laikipia and Isiolo Counties.
Population of persons with disabilities
It was established that there was no data for people living with disability in Meru County. This plan therefore recommends a baseline survey to be carried out.
Under 1 year: In this age cohort, the projections for the year 2018 indicate that there will be 46,762 children, an increase of 20.5 per cent from 2009 census. This population is projected to be 50,772 children by 2022. This accounts for approximately 3 per cent of the total population. The increase in the population under the age of one is attributed to decline in infant mortality rate due to immunization programs that have been scaled up by the health sectors in the county. There is also increase in the number of mothers delivering in health care facilities due to the introduction of free maternity program. There is need to train more health care professionals so as to reduce the ratio of health care workers to population and improve maternal services.
Under 5 years: The projected number of persons under five years of age in the county stood at 217,194 in 2018, this being a 21 percent increase from the 2009 population census. This population consists of 107,628 females and 109,568 males and constitutes 14 per cent of the total population. It is projected to increase to 226,316 and 235,822 by the year 2018 and 2022 respectively. This increase in population calls for more efforts in providing additional facilities in pre-schools and primary schools, consistent with government policies to provide free universal primary education. As this population is also vulnerable to diseases, response strategies call for measures to upscale immunization programmes. To curb cases of malnutrition and stunting, strategies aimed at improving nutritional status should also be encouraged
Primary School Age Group (6-13 Years): The population of primary school-going age was projected to be at 337,603 in 2018. This is projected to increase to 351,782 in 2020 and 366,557 in the year 2022. Currently, this group accounts for approximately 21 per cent of the total population. Appropriate measures need to be put in place to provide necessary facilities such as teaching and learning materials. Physical facilities and teachers to cater for the needs of this age group need to be put in place to address the current challenge and the projected growth in this age group.