Kilifi county, Sisal plantation

Size and location

Kilifi County covers a total surface area of 12,610 km2 and accounts for 2.17% of Kenya’s total surface area. It borders the counties of Tana River to the North, Taita Taveta to the West, Mombasa and Kwale to the South and the Indian Ocean to the East.

Headquarters and major towns

The County’s capital is the coastal town of Kilifi which lies on the Kilifi Creek between Mombasa and Malindi towns. Other major towns include:

  • Malindi
  • Mtwapa
  • Watamu
  • Mariakani
  • Kaloleni
  • Gongoni

Geography and climate

The topography of the county is dominated by low-range sand-stone hills, and a terrain that generally slopes towards the sea. Kilifi County has 21 forests cumulatively, covering 246 km2. River Sabaki, a perennial fresh water river, runs   150km   across the county, supporting various human and livestock activities. Seasonal rivers in the county include the Nzovuni, Rare, Goshi and Wimbi. There are also many seasonal streams found across the county.

The average annual rainfall ranges from 300mm in the hinterland parts of the County to 1,300mm along the coastal belt. 

The people of Kilifi County

Based on the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census, the county had about 200 000 households and a population of 1,109,735 which accounted for 2.9% of the total Kenyan population.

The main communities residing in Kilifi County include seven Mijikenda sub-groups (Giriama, Chonyi, Jibana, Kambe, Kauma, Rabai and Ribe), the Bajuni, Swahili, and people of Arab, Indian and European descent who have permanently settled in the county. There are other Kenyan communities who have also settled in the County because of their employment or for purposes of doing business. Over time, these people have had close interactions with each other and fostered the Swahili culture and language. Most of the people in Kilifi County are either Christians or Muslims, though other smaller religious communities exist.

Administrative units

Kilifi County has 6 administrative districts, namely:

  • Kilifi
  • Kaloleni
  • Malindi
  • Magarini
  • Ganze
  • Bahari

Electoral Units

The county is divided into 7 constituencies and 35 wards.

The constituencies are:

  1. Malindi,
  2. Magarini,
  3. Kaloleni,
  4. Ganze,
  5. Rabai,
  6. Kilifi North, and
  7. Kilifi South.

Location: Located in Coastal Kenya, it borders the Indian Ocean to the East, Tana River to the North, Taita Taveta to the West and Kwale and Mombasa to the South.

Area (Km 2): 12,610 Km 2

Kilifi County

  • Kilifi North
  • Kilifi south
  • Kaloleni
  • Rabai
  • Ganze
  • Malindi
  • Magarini

Population: 1,109,735

Population Density: 88 people per Km 2

kilifi econmic act


More than half of the land in Kilifi is arable, however, only 31% of the farmers hold titles to their land.

Maize and cassava are the main subsistence crops grown in the County.

The main cash crops grown in the county include coconuts, cashew nuts, sisal and citrus fruits such as mangoes and pineapples.

Potential crops for cultivating in Kilifi

The average precipitation of 900 mm and mean annual temperature of 27°C hold potential for agricultural development. Horticultural crops and vegetables such as chillies, brinjals, okra, onions and tomatoes can be cultivated along the Coastal Plains. Staples like maize, rice, bananas, cowpeas, green grams and beans can also do well. Northwards, along with the Sokoke Forest, island with medium agricultural potential. Further north, is the pineapple fields in Magarini district that can provide large-scale farming. Jatropha, aloe vera and vanilla grow well in the County and could be promoted for the production of bio-diesel, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and food products. 

Livestock farming

Livestock and poultry farming is a major economic activity in the county. There are 4 private and 8 group ranches in Kilifi on which both dairy and beef cattle are kept. Other livestock species reared include goats, sheep, pigs and rabbits; mainly on the small-scale basis by subsistence farmers and bee-keeping is also practised.

Opportunities exist in livestock holding grounds, ranching, export slaughterhouses and the establishment of tanneries.


Deep-sea fishing is a lucrative venture due to high demand for fish from the hotel industry. The county has 14 landing beached and over 5,000 fishermen. Sports fishing has also taken root, with fishing clubs established at various spots associated with tourist hotels and resorts.

Mining and manufacturing

Kilifi County is rich in minerals; mainly titanium and iron ore, that have spurred extensive industrial mining activities. Other minerals extracted include barites, Galena, rubies, pozzolana, gypsum and limestone. Salt mining and sand harvesting have been carried out over the years to take advantage of the sandy, salty waters. While these are economically lucrative, they are equally responsible for the destruction of its mangrove forests. As for manufacturing sector, there are:

  • Two Cement factories in Kaloleni (Bamburi Cement and Athi River mining)
  • Salt extracting companies in Malindi
  • Milly fruit processing at Mtwapa
  • Sandal factory in Kikambala
  • Milk processing factory in Kilifi


Tourism is very important for the country. It creates opportunities for employment in the service industries associated with it, such as transport, entertainment and advertising.

There has been an up-trend in tourism over the last few years and the County is well positioned to benefit from; local tourism, ecotourism, pro-poor tourism, educational tourism, cultural tourism and sports tourism. All these trends offer opportunities for significant growth of the tourism sector in Kilifi County.

Main attractions:

  • Rabai Church
  • Gede Ruins
  • Vasco da Gama Pillar
  • Mnarani Ruins
  • Mangrove Forests
  • Arubuko Sokoke Forest which hosts the Tsavo East National Park
  • Indian Ocean
  • Kafuloni
  • Sabaki and Rare Rivers

Marine parks of Malindi, Watamu and Mtwapa are a great tourist attraction.

The overall literacy rate in Kilifi County stands at 68%. Of this number, 51% are men while 49% are women. There are 418 primary and 86 secondary schools catering for an estimated 256,000 and 22,500 students respectively. There are 13 youth polytechnics, one college and a University campus.

Universities / Colleges in Kilifi:

  • Pwani University College
  • Bandari College
  • Kilifi Medical College

Primary school children in Kilifi County


  • Squatters leaving on their ancestral land in the region do not have title deeds on the land. The lands is own by government, when sold result to eviction.
  • Early marriages is the highest in this county compared to the rest of the country. (Report by Plan International).

Although many health facilities exist within the county, these are unevenly distributed and mainly located along major roads. The lack of permanent health workers operating within the communities reduces efficiency levels in the delivery of medical services. The major health facilities in the county are as follows:

kilifi no of health centers

The HIV/AIDS prevalence in the county in comparison to other coastal counties is as shown below.

kilifi HIV prevelence


Transport infrastructure in Kilifi County has been developed along the coastline to support its lucrative tourism industry, stimulate trading activities and facilitate transit to neighbouring counties. The high influx of foreign tourists into the County necessitated the establishment of the Malindi International Airport to handle international charter flights.

Basic services such as healthcare and banking, as well as major trading markets are concentrated along the road networks. This has resulted in unequal distribution of basic amenities and services within the County and hampered easy access to these services by the far-flung rural communities. As a result, this inequality has inadvertently reduced the level of social cohesion.


Sadly, a mere 6% of the households in the county are connected to electricity while 44% have access to piped water. These low levels in the supply of energy and water to the communities reduce their participation in economically productive activities and affect the pace of development.



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