Tana River County

Hola town is the administrative headquarters.


Ambassador Hussein Dado is current governor, Jire Siyat Mohammed – Deputy Governor, Senator- Ali Bure and the woman representative is HalimaWare Duri.

Tana River County covers an estimated area of 38, 436.9 sq Km. It is situated in a semi-arid area with annual relief rainfall varying between 400mm and 750mm with a mean annual temperature ranging between 300C and 330C. Its local authority is the county Council of Tana River. Hola town is the administrative headquarters.

Socio-Economic Activities 

Farming and nomadic pastoralism are the main economic activities in Tana River County due to the dry conditions and erratic rainfall patterns experienced in the county. The Tana River is a major water resource in the area.

The extensive delta created by River Tana presents great potential for agricultural development in the district. It is a natural habitat to an enormously diverse flora and fauna, which forms an ideal ecosystem for promotion of tourism.

It also provides grazing areas during the dry seasons and its water is used for irrigation. The main crops grown in the district are; rice, mangoes, maize, bananas and soya beans. Fishing, forestry and agro forestry are also important activities in the delta.

Natural Resources 

Riverine forest, woodland, grassland, bush lands, lakes, open river channels, sand dunes, mangroves and coastal waters contribute to making Tana River County one of the most ecologically diverse habitats and a tourist attraction in the country.

Besides the Tana River, there are several seasonal rivers in the district. These are found in the area west of River Tana in northeastern part of the district.

Popularly known as “lagas”, these rivers flow in a west-east direction from Kitui, Makueni and Mwingi District draining into River Tana and eventually into the Indian Ocean.

Administrative units

Communal strata

The major ethnic groups are the Pokomo, many of whom are farmers, and the Orma and Wardey, who are predominantly nomadic. The county is generally dry and prone to drought.

Conflicts have occurred between farmers and nomadic peoples over access to water. Flooding is also a regular problem, caused by heavy rainfall in upstream areas of the Tana River.

On 22 August 2012, in the worst violent incident in Kenya since 2007, at least 52 people were killed in ethnic violence in Tana River County between the Orma and Pokomo groups.

Tana River County presents an interesting case of the nexus between conflict and food security. A recent survey prepared by ALMRP, Tana River District and presented to the Tana River District Steering Group (2004) found that the county is 79% food insecure and with an incidence of poverty at 62% (Interim Poverty Strategy Paper (I-PSP), 2000–2003, Kenya).

Tana River County comprises several areas of forest, woodland and grassland which are minor centres of endemism. The forests are designated National Reserve status if they have >4 plant endemics and >7 vertebrate endemics (IUCN, 2003).

Despite the apparent adequate natural resources, the region remains marginalised from the rest of the country.

Efforts at development always seem to centre on the huge River Tana, despite massive failures in all the previous irrigation projects in the district, i.e. Bura, Hola and the Tana delta rice irrigation project which failed after the water works were damaged by the El Niño rains in 1998.


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