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1.1. Geographic position of the country
1.2. Socio-economic information
1.3. Ecological information

1.1. Geographic position of the country

Kenya lies approximately between latitude 4o 40’N, and 4o 30’S and between longitudes 34oE and 41oE. The total area is 582,600 km2. Kenya is boarded by Sudan, Ethiopia and Somali to the northwest, north and east respectively. To the west is Uganda, south Tanzania and southeast is the Indian Ocean. Lake Victoria is shared by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Kenya has a population of about 29.6 million people (2000). About 68% of Kenya’s population live in the rural areas. The capital of Kenya is Nairobi and has a population of about 3 million people.

1.2. Socio-economic information

Kenya’s population density is about 52 persons/km². The rate of population increase has been 2.0% (1995-2000). Agriculture is the main occupation of the Kenya population. Coffee and tea are the main cash and export crops. Sugar, fruits, horticultural crops and floriculture have become important export crops. Livestock farming for export of meat and daily products has recently decreased but production is enough for national consumption. Fish production from mainly Lake Victoria and less from Indian Ocean is exported to the EU countries and Japan. Tourism is an important and well-developed industry in Kenya

The GNP per capita for Kenya is US$330 and the annual growth rate of GDP is 2.1% (1999).

1.3. Ecological information

Figure 1 shows the agro-climatic zone map of Kenya. The described zones are a reflection of the rainfall distribution pattern in the country. Approximately 80% of Kenya falls within semi-arid eco-zones and only about 20% is considered to be in the potential agricultural land area.

In Kenya’s dry zone, the climate is generally hot and dry. The sky is clear and daytime temperatures may rise to 38ºC. The soils are generally poor and are characterised by high sand content, low water content and low natural fertility. In the dry areas the air is dry, humidity low and the vegetation has less cover on the ground. Table 1 shows the most important climatic eco-zones and corresponding vegetation.

Table 1 Classification of dryland ecological zones


Mean annual Temperature Range (ºC)

Mean annual rainfall (mm)

Annual potential evapotranspiration (mm)

Typical vegetation

Potential for plant growth

Semi-humid to semi-arid




Dry woodland and bushland







Medium to low





Bushland and scrubland


Very arid




Desert scrub

Very low

The arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) account for about 80 percent of Kenya’s land surface. Much of the land falls under the lowlands, which are mostly interspaced by hills and small mountains.

Figure 2 shows distribution of soils in Kenya. The map shows a wide distribution range of soil types which is mainly a reflection of the physical landscapes rising from the coral reefs at the Indian Ocean to the snow capped Mount Kenya. Soils include the very fertile volcanic soils to poorly eroded soils arising from soil erosion that causes loss of nutrients, siltation of lakes and hydroelectric dams and pollution of marine ecosystems. The soils in the dry areas are sandy, dry and are therefore prone to soil erosion by wind and especially also by sporadic torrential rains (figure 3).

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