Bungoma County

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Bungoma County
Flag of Bungoma County
Coat of arms of Bungoma County
Coat of arms
Location in Kenya
Location in Kenya
Coordinates: 0.5695° N, 34.5584° E
Country Kenya
FormedMarch 4th 2013
 • GovernorWycliffe Wafula Wangamati
 • Total2,206.9 km2 (852.1 sq mi)
 • Total1,670,570
 • Density760/km2 (2,000/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+3 (EAT)

Bungoma County is a county in the former Western Province of Kenya. Its capital is Bungoma or Bungoma Town. It has a population of 1,670,570 of which 812,146 are males  858,389 females as per the 2019 census[1][2] and an area of 2,069 km2.[3] In 2010, the neighbouring Mount Elgon District was eliminated and its lands were merged with Bungoma District to form Bungoma County.

The economy of Bungoma County is mainly agricultural, centering on the sugarcane and maize industries. The area experiences high rainfall throughout the year, and is home to several large rivers, which are used for small-scale irrigation.


The Bukusu tribe, who occupy much of the county, are resilient and flamboyant people who stood up against British rule in the late 19th century. In a war that erupted at Lumboka and eventually ended at Chetambe, near Webuye, the Bukusu bitterly resisted the British. They are farmers who practice both livestock and crop farming. And an early British traveler described them as such when he visited in 1876 "on the East of the Mountain, there are the Bukusu who are greater livestock breeders and keepers".

The Bukusu have produced many prominent people that have served in the Kenyan public life; among them are H.E. Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi (Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD), the late Hon Masinde Muliro(Founder Member of the original KADU independence party, founder member of FORD party) late Hon Wamalwa Kijana (former vice president), the late Cardinal Maurice Michael Otunga (head of the Catholic Church in Kenya), the late Elijah Masinde (founder of Dini ya Musambwa), Sudi Namachanja (chief during colonial times), Hon. Lawrence Sifuna (Second-Liberation hero in the struggle for multiparty democracy in Kenya), Luka Namulala (community fortune teller), among others. Among the women that have stood out include Dinah Khayota (former women's rights leader), Justice Ruth Nekoye, former Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Barasa, Beatrice Kituyi (a prominent lawyer and former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour), Dr Eusebius Juma Mukhwana (agriculture/educationist), and Prof. Adrian Mukhebi (agriculture) among others.

In business, notable figures include Makhanu Munata, Maurice Butala, Vincent Naliakho, mama Dinah Kibunguchy, Henry Wakwabubi, Tom Katenya, Mama lutia (Nalondo), Dimina Agencies, Mwalimu Kokonya, Moses Simiyu, Luketelo, Mbaya, and Didimo Satia, among others.

Bungoma County have had prominent innovators in the NGO world that helped champion the cause for the poor in society. One such person is Jim Nduruchi, the "jigger man" who started Rise Up Society, a community welfare organization that helped free thousands of people from the jigger scourge that afflicted mainly the poor from all walks of life. He is the winner of Google Awards (2016) in the sub Saharan Africa and his movement called "Love in action" had brought together people from everywhere on the planet to team up and drum up support for the suffering rural folk in Kenya.[unbalanced opinion?]


Politically, over the last 17 years or so, the community have been members of Ford-Kenya, the party formerly headed by Wamalwa Kijana. Through this party, the community has been able to express and participate in national politics. More recently, community members now have MPs drawn from the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), the Party of National Unity (Kenya) (PNU), Ford-Kenya, and New-Ford-Kenya. Currently, notable political figures include Governor Wycliffe Wangamati, Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, Senator Moses Wetangula, among others.

Bungoma Senator
Moses Wetangula Current Bungoma Senator and leader of FORD-Kenya


This large population of approximately 1.4 million, coupled with rural unemployment, has started to put pressure on land and other natural resources, hence necessitating satellite towns to expand their business scope.

Sub County/Ward Total Population(2019)
Bumula 215,892
Bungoma Central 177,748
Bungoma East 114,548
Bungoma North 121,317
Bungoma South 287,765
Cheptais. 136,035
Kimilili-Bungoma 162,038
Mt. Elgon.. 78,873
Bungoma West. 119,875
Tongaren 100,343
Webuye West 152,515
Mt. Elgon Forest* 3,621
Total (Bungoma) 1,670,570


Historical population
1979 503,935—    
1989 679,146+34.8%
1999 1,011,524+48.9%
2009 1,375,063+35.9%


The main economic activities include agriculture, manufacturing, services, and general retail.


Agriculture is the backbone of Bungoma County and most families rely on crop production and animal rearing. The main crops include maize, beans, finger millet, sweet potatoes, bananas, Irish potatoes, and assorted vegetables. These are grown primary for subsistence, with the excess sold to meet other family needs. On the other hand, the main cash crops include sugar cane, cotton, palm oil, coffee, sunflower, and tobacco.[6] Most families integrate livestock production with farming. The main livestock kept include cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys, pigs, poultry, and bees. Most of this is on a small scale but some farmers also produce milk and poultry products for commercial use.[6] Milk farmers sell their milk though cooperative societies, including Sang'alo, Kikai, and Naitiri.[7]


Rai Paper, formerly Pan-African Paper Mills (East Africa) Limited, is one of the largest manufacturing companies in the county. The company, which was incorporated in 1969, is based in Webuye Town and manufactures paper products.[8] Pan Paper, as it was commonly known, struggled and eventually collapsed in 2009 due to a myriad of factors, including mismanagement. In its heyday, Pan Paper was the largest company in Bungoma and employed 5,000 people directly and another 30,000 indirectly.[9] Due to its importance to the economy of Webuye Town, the collapse brought the town to its knees, with most businesses shutting down.[10] In an effort to revive the company, the government of Kenya privatized it in 2016 and it was bought by Tarlochan Ltd, a subsidiary of Rai Group of Companies, for Ksh 900 million (US$9 million). Due to long neglect, the company needed a major overhaul of machinery, with the new owner saying it would cost about Ksh 6 billion (US$60 million) to fully rehabilitate.[11] Today, the company is operating on a lower scale and employs about 500 people.[12]

Nzoia Sugar Company Ltd is the other major manufacturing company in the county. Established in 1975, the company serves over 67,000 farmers within and outside of Bungoma County. The company's nucleus cane estate covers 3,600 hectares, while the out-grower zone spans over 23,500 hectares.[13] Nzoia Sugar has however not provided farmers with a stable source of income. Frequent closures, occasioned by mismanagement, huge debts, and failure to pay farmers, who in turn refuse to supply cane, have continued to hinder its operations.[14]

The other factories and industries in the county include Malakisi Tobacco Leaf Centre, Webuye Heavy Chemicals Industry, and small coffee factories. Milk plants and large bread bakeries are also present in the county.[6]

Services sector[edit]

Bungoma is served by several financial institutions, including major banks such as Barclays, KCB, Equity, Cooperative, National, Family, Diamond Trust, and Bank of Africa. The county also has several micro-finance institutions, including K-Rep and Kenya Women Finance Trust. Insurance companies with a presence in the county include British American, Geminia, Pan African, Blue Shield, and Amaco, among others. The county is served by several post offices, and major mobile telephone operators in Kenya including Safaricom, Airtel, and Telkom. Courier operators in the county include G4S Security and Wells Fargo.[6] Some of these service providers, such as Safaricom, employ hundreds through their services such as Mpesa.[15]


Despite having some potential for tourism, including the Mt. Elgon National Park [16] and cultural events such as traditional circumcision, Bungoma's tourism sector is under-developed. It is only recently that an upsurge of the hotel industry has been experienced, mainly driven by business travelers.[6]

Bungoma Tourist Hotel undergoing renovation in 2015

17 Best Places to Visit in Bungoma County[edit]

[unbalanced opinion?][dubious ]

  1. Mount Elgon National Reserve
  2. Elephant "Maternity Ward"
  3. Nabuyole Falls
  4. Kumfunje Bridge
  5. Maeni Shrine
  6. Sang'alo Twin Rock
  7. Kapsetany Caves
  8. Teremi Falls
  9. Daraja la Mungu
  10. Mwibale wa Mwanja
  11. Chetambe's Fort
  12. Buteyo Miti Park
  13. Namunyu Caves
  14. Malikisi Falls
  15. Chepkitale Forest
  16. Pan Paper Company
  17. Chwele Market[17]


Bungoma County has had a vibrant retail sector which has been growing. The major supermarkets operating in the county include Nakumatt, Naivas, Khetias, and Shariffs.[18][19] Chepkube Market is the county's leading secondhand clothes market, which provides entrepreneurship opportunities to many residents.


The main university in the area is Kibabii University, which was chartered in 2015, and is a public university located about 10km from Bungoma Town, along the Chwele-Kimilili Road. The vice chancellor is Professor Isaac Odeo Ipara. Other major educational institutions of higher learning include SACRED Training Institute (STI), Sang'alo Institute of Science and Technology, Matili Polytechnic, Kisiwa Polytechnic, and Kibabii Diploma Teacher's College.

The county also has major national and county schools, such as Friends School Kamusinga, Lugulu Girls, Kibabii High School, Chwele Girls, Misikhu Girls, and Bungoma High School. The residents of the county highly value education and invest a great deal in it.

Major professionals that have been through the higher education sector in Kenya include Prof. Kassily (medic), Prof. Simiyu Wandibba (archaeology), Prof. Vincent Simiyu (history), Prof. Henry Kerre (education), Prof. Monica Mwiseli (maths), Prof. Barasa Wangila (aquaculture), Prof. Eusebius Mukhwana (agriculture/educationist), Prof Adrian Mukhebi (agriculture), and Prof. Ngome Kibanani.


There are a number of non-governmental organizations currently working in Bungoma. One Acre Fund in an effort to improve farming incomes, is introducing more profitable crops and farming techniques to farmers and providing farming inputs in exchange for a share of future revenues. For over 15 years, SACRED Africa has been working with farmers to improve farm productivity, soil health, Technology transfer and marketing of agricultural produce. the organization pioneered the concept of cereal banking in western Kenya which won a UN award for innovative resolution of challenges facing smallholder marketing.

Sun24 has trained over 60,000 women in Bungoma to cook with rock beds in their traditional wood cookstoves. Rock beds are free and cut firewood usage by a third and cut smoke by much more.

Village Enterprise has trained more than 30,000 women in Bungoma on how to start, develop and sustain businesses in the county.They have also encouraged the registration of women groups in order to facilitate them to a bigger pool of resources from the government in order to improve livelihoods.

Services and urbanisation[edit]

Stats for Bungoma County
Stats for the County (Percent)
Attending School (15-18 Yrs)
Paved Roads
Good Roads
Electricity Access
Poverty Rate

Stats for the County

Source: USAid Kenya


Local authorities (councils)
Authority Type Population* Urban pop.*
Bungoma Municipality 60,650 44,196
Kimilili Municipality 71,299 10,261
Webuye Municipality 48,806 19,606
Malakisi Town 38,004 3,762
Sirisia Town 22,703 822
Bungoma County County 635,029 10,852
Total - 876,491 89,499
* 1999 census. Source: [1]
Administrative divisions
Division Population* Urban pop.* Headquarters
Bumula 129,011 500 Bumula
Central 60,605 513 Nalondo
Chwele 41,174 2,677 Chwele
Kanduyi 163,568 38,407 Bungoma
Kimilili 96,674 9,631 Kimilili
Malakisi 36,042 3,341 Malakisi
Ndivisi 57,336 1,905 Ndivisi
Sirisia 44,088 769 Sirisia
Tongaren 133,296 5,313 Naitiri
Webuye 114,697 18,257 Webuye
Total 876,491 109,490 -
* 1999 census. Sources:[20][21]

The county has nine constituencies:

Villages and settlements[edit]

  • Chelebei
  • Chesikaki
  • Kamukuywa
  • Kapsokwany
  • Kamusinga
  • Laboot
  • Mbakalo
  • Kibisi
  • Lunyu
  • karima

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kenya Census 2009 - Census - Kenya". Scribd.com. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Kenya's census results at a glance". Daily Nation. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  3. ^ "Kenya Districts". Statoids.com. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  4. ^ "2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census Volume I: Population by County and Sub-County". Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  5. ^ Kenya: Administrative Division population statistics
  6. ^ a b c d e First Bungoma County Integrated Development Plan 2013- 2017
  7. ^ editor (18 February 2015). "Bungoma Dairy Farmers Wrecking Millions From Sell Of Milk". Countyguardian.com. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  8. ^ "Bloomberg - Are you a robot?". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Kenya: State Urged to Revive Webuye Pan Paper Mill". Allafrica.com. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  10. ^ Inyanji, Jackline. "When Pan Paper collapsed, hopes of Webuye town died with it". Standardmedia.co.ke. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  11. ^ "Kenya: New Bosses Begin Work to Revive Pan Paper". Allafrica.com. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Uhuru to reopen Wbuye's Pan Paper". Nation.co.ke. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  13. ^ "Nzoia Sugar Company". Nzoia Sugar Company. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Nzoia Sugar closes over huge debt, shortage of cane". The-star.co.ke. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  15. ^ "M-PESA AUTHORISED AGENTS" (PDF). Safaricom.co.ke. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  16. ^ "Mount Elgon National Park - Kenya Wildlife Service". Kws.go.ke. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  17. ^ "Bungoma County I Finding Kenya". Findingkenya.com. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  18. ^ "Khetia Drapers Ltd > Milestone". Khetia.com. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  19. ^ "Naivas in a head-to-head race with Nakumatt for Bungoma". Business Daily. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  20. ^ Communications Commission of Kenya Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ International Livestock Research Institute – Urban Poverty Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine (.xls)

Coordinates: 0°35′N 34°35′E / 0.583°N 34.583°E / 0.583; 34.583