Tana River County is one of the Six Counties in the Coast Region. It borders Kitui County to the West, Garissa County to the North East, Isiolo County to the North, Lamu County to the South East and Kilifi County to the South. The county has a total area of 38,862.2 Km2 with a projected population of 349,338(KNBS, 2018) and covers about 76 kms of the coastal strip. The county is divided into three (3) administrative units namely; Bura, Galole and Tana Delta, 15 wards; 54 locations; and one hundred nine (109) sub-Locations.

Population size and composition

The projected population of Tana River County in 2018 is estimated at 313,374 with 157,282 being female and 156,092 males. This is expected to increase to 344,595 in 2020 and to 366,661 by 2022, reflecting about 17.7 percent increase. The county has an inter census population growth rate of 2.83 percent slightly lower than the national average of 2.9 percent. The ratio of male to female is 99:100 and the pattern is projected to remain the same over the plan period.


Tana River County with 62.2 per cent of the population living in absolute poverty, and with the population growth rate of 2.8 per cent, the projected increase in population has a major and direct impact on the basic needs such as food, water, health and education for all ages. The first priority being food security, it implies that efforts should be made to increase food production to cater for the increased population. In the water sector, the expectation is that the available water sources of River Tana will have to be tapped to increase the volume of clean water for consumption. The health sector is expected to enhance its effort to increase the available facilities, personnel, and supply of medicine accordingly. Additionally, there are special age groups that need targeted interventions because of their special characteristics. These include the under one year, the under five years, 3-5 years, primary school-going age, secondary school-going age, youth population, female reproductive age, labor force, and aged population as shown in Table 1-6 below shows the Tana River County population projection for selected age groups

Child Population

Under One Year: The County has an estimated population of 12,854 infants in 2018 and is projected to increase to 13,369 by 2020 and 13,740 by 2022. This calls for special interventions in order to significantly reduce the high Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) which stands at 91/1000 (2018), higher than the national figure of 39/1000 in 2016.

Under Five Years: This population comprises of 20 per cent of the total. The population is estimated at 61,294 in 2018 and is projected to increase to 63,750 in 2020 and 65,516 in 2022. The county will implement projects and programmes which are aimed at enhancing immunization coverage and health care. The county will also work towards expanding, equipping and staffing Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDCs) to cater to this group.

Pre-School Education: The County has 322 public ECD centres. Among these, 167 are stand-alone ECDs while 155 are integrated with primary schools. There are 52 private ECDs. The total number of EDC teachers is 298. The teacher-pupil ratio in pre-primary school is 1:82. The total enrolment in public ECDs is 24,666 and 446 in private ECDs. The pre-primary retention rate is 87 per cent with a drop-out rate of 13 per cent while the transition rate is 87 per cent. However, this indicates that about 60 per cent of the pre-primary school-aged children is at home. There is a need for the government to up-scale efforts to ensure all these children access to school.

Primary School Age-group (Age Group 6-13): The primary school-going age population (6-13 years) in 2018 was estimated at 77,530 and projected to increase to 82,454 and 86,907 in 2020 and 2022, respectively. The increase is expected to put pressure on the existing 165 primary schools in the county. Given this is a national government function, it calls for the construction of more primary schools, improve the facilities in the existing schools and employ more teachers to maintain a reasonable teacher-pupil ratio. The current enrolment stands at 50,348 for public schools and 1,450 for private primary schools, with a total enrolment of 51,798. The teacher-pupil ratio in primary level is 1:55 while the dropout rate stands at 40 per cent. The average years of attendance for primary school is 8, the retention rate is 60 per cent while the transition rate to secondary level is 48 per cent. Efforts need to be put in place to ensure improved retention and transition.

Special Needs Education:

Enrolment of children with special needs remains low. Currently, there are 2 Special units with an enrolment of 152.

Human development indicators

The county has a life expectancy of 53.8 years compared to the national life expectancy of 57.9 years. The adult literacy rate of the county is 33.9 per cent compared to the national adult literacy rate of 87.38 per cent.