Kisii County post-devolution is worth exploring for economic opportunities if you do not mind the crowds. In the same breath, it is arguably one of the most chaotic towns I have visited in the last few years. The chaos is perhaps fuelled by lack of planning and a ticking population time bomb.
The financial sector is adept at sniffing such opportunities and their solid presence perhaps supports this growth sentiment.
Health entrepreneurs can also gain. Maternity and nursing homes are now coalescing around group practices and private hospitals that serve the deficiencies of public facilities. More than 10 Level Four facilities operate within the town alone.
This has led to a high number of specialists setting up in the town. But they are not enough.
County data projected from the 2009 census places dwellers at about 1.5 million, but the 2019 census will tell a clearer picture.
Similarly, 2009 constituency level data puts former Kitutu Chache’s population density of 1,121 people per square kilometre as the highest. It has since been split into two.
I surveyed Mosocho area, the highest density at 1,497.8 people per square kilometre (2017 Kisii County Fact Sheet estimates) looking at education and health facilities.
The area has perhaps the shortest distance between educational institutions and maybe top five in terms of density of schools per square kilometre of schools nationally.
The associated implication of lack of progress to tertiary education and unemployment are documented in the county planning documents.
The two dynamics influencing population growth are fertility rate and contraceptive use. According to the 2014 KDHS, Kisii’s Total Fertility Rate of 3.7 children per woman and a Contraceptive Prevalence Rate of 63 percent, point to a population pyramid to be dominated by youth.
With a mainly agriculture-based economy, shrinking individual land acreage, poor tertiary level transition and lack of employment opportunities reveal a need for planning for urban areas.
The biggest strain, though, will be on the county’s health budget to meet this population’s needs.
To fix this, the county would not do badly to improve its family planning efforts.
It is also paramount that Kisii county start extending planning and zoning of areas, including the townships.