Mandera County


Discover Mandera County

Spatial Location of Mandera County in Kenya
Spatial Location of Mandera County in Kenya

Brief Overview of Mandera County

Mandera County occupies the extreme northeastern triangular corner of Kenya, bounded by Kenya-Somalia border in the east and by Daua River on the north, where this river contrives the boundary between Ethiopia and Kenya. Excepting several hill ranges and the peneplain which has been dissected in the north by Daua River, Mandera County is marked all over by a bright limestone and shale sandy soil covered, often scantily, by an open thorn shrub with large trees along some of the dryer river courses, with far between switchbacks to thorn bushland and patches of trees. The bushland vegetation is sometimes unpleasantly dense along gullies and glades in the southern region, and often around ‘laghas’ where water accumilates during the rainy season. In the dryer season the monotony of dry ‘bushland’ is only relived by the fringe of the doum palms along River Daua.

Mandera Town, its capital, set at the very northeast tip, is reached from Garissa through El Wak by a road that follows the international boundary to Bur Mansa where it leaves the border and skirts the Hegalu Hills. A road from Mandera to Malka Muri National Park runs along the Daua valley roughly parallel to the Ethiopian border through Rhamu, where a road branches off to the south. The 1,135 kms unsung odyssey from Nairobi to Mandera is, at best, a death-or-glory gutsy journey for the strong-minded intrepid. An undertaking of will and brute strength. From Garissa Town, where the smooth road ends abruptly, begins the 735 kms Mari-Run that cuts through the desolate and unrelenting plains, only punctuated by few and far between hills. It is necessary to fill up with petrol at Garissa and carry reserves. Beyond Garissa, filling stations are almost mythical.

The dusty road northerly heading through the unforgiving plains is layered with limestone outcrops which render it difficult to drive over even with a good 4X4 vehicle. So if the object of the journey is to get to Mandera Town, it should take you the better part of 24 hours. During the rainy season, the B7 Wajir-Mandera road is almost impassible. During the rains vehicular traffic through the area is discouraged in order to conserve and protect the surfaces of the road. To boot, the tiny towns along the Mari-Run rarely have adequate supplies or provide any reasonable accommodation. In spite of its impertinent security, inhospitable weather, tough drive and unsparing dust-clouds, Mandera County is a rarely seen landscape with sweeping vistas over the mountains and wide-bay peaks that off-again fill the scene. Mandera is also a focal point for the Somali Culture.

View of the landscape near Malka Mari National Park.  Photo Courtesy
View of the landscape near Malka Mari National Park. Image Courtesy

Salient Features of Mandera County

  • County Number 09
  • Area – 25991 km2
  • Altitude – 2000 ft
  • Major Towns – Mandera, Tabaka, Banissa
  • Borders – Wajir, Somalia, Ethiopia
Mandera County Map

Brief History of Mandera County

Mandera County has five Semitic clans with a long-standing history. The three prominent clans – Murulle, Garre and Marehan – attract most attention. For most part of the year these clans are found either along the stretch of country near Daua River or centered around the wells of El Wak in the southern region where they water and herd camels, goats and cattle. On arrival at Mandera, the Imperial British East Africa Company merely rode shotgun and let the already turbulent relationship among the clans (especially between Murulle and Garre Clans) work to their favour. Into the bargain, Mandera Administrative District of the Northern Province and was a closed district under the Outlying Districts Ordinance; Proclamations Nos. 89 of 1925 and 35 of 1926. By 1921, they had introduced small arms and armed the Garre Clan to engender their schemes. Later on, during the esoteric 1963 Shifta Wars, the porous border with Somalia amplified the spread of arms, which put eternal strain on the clan-relationships.

Aerial view of Mandera bordering Beled Somalia.  Photo Courtesy of Mandera Journal
Mandera Town, near Beled Somalia. Image Courtesy of Mandera Journal
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15 Attractions in Mandera County, arranged as one would visit these - south, north then west - with the aid of in-depth narratives, images, strip maps and distance chart:

Elwak Ancient Wells, Fort Elwak, Marehan Sandstone, Malka Mari National Park, River Daua, Dandu Hill, Red Sea Resort, 

Geography, Land-Use, Highlights, Population, Roads, Airports, Climate and National Monuments in Mandera County