The small yet bustling town of Isiolo lies almost at the center of Kenya in the former Eastern Province.
It’s a story of contrasts.
Just 40 km south of Isiolo lies Meru, on the foothills of Mount Kenya, a domineering 2,300 meters above sea level. Meru is lush green land, with tropical forest, mountain climate, deep springs, heavy gushing rivers and lots of arable land.
Hardly a day goes by without rainfall in some region of the County.
Isiolo is totally different.
Only one major river passes by the town, the Ewaso Nyiro, that actually originates from The Aberdares and traces its way via Isiolo to Samburu, a staggering 250 km journey.
Isiolo is arid and semi-arid climate territory, with sparse seasons of rainfall.
However, over the last 10 years, Isiolo has grown to become an important trading hub, the gatepost between Northern and Southern Kenya, a region town, drawing heavy commercial traffic from Somali, South Sudan and more importantly Ethiopia.
But it deserves a mention here as this is the town that John must pass through on his way to the Ethiopian border town of Moyale.
John also travels every week to Isiolo to participate in a local radio show where he gives free legal aid to local residents.
Most of the questions range from inheritance law to domestic violence issues and family disputes.
That makes the connection to the Zero Violence254 Initiative.
But let’s tell you a little about Isiolo’s history.
Story & Facts
Isiolo will also be a transport hub as the location of the fork of the Lamu Port and Lamu-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor.
It does make its revenue from the popular Samburu and Shaba Game reserves, which have become preferred destinations after the famed Maasai Mara.
Isiolo is also known for its large retail market, while brass, copper and aluminum jewelry making is a local industry.
Bustling Hotel Industry
Conservation Efforts In Samburu
The Lewa Downs reserve is located south of Isiolo. The Meru National Park lies in the North East of the town.
The town is majorly Muslim populated and has a several mosques. The Jamia mosque is the largest of all and also a remarkable landmark.
Growth of Isiolo Town
The town grew around the local military camps, much of the population being descended from former Somali soldiers who had fought in World War I as well as other Cushitic-speaking pastoral communities and the Ameru community.
The town has an estimated population of 80,000 people, most of them living in the rural outbacks of the District. There is an increasing urban population in the recent years, especially from as far as Moyale, Marsabit and Mandera.
Isiolo District was designated as the Headquarters of the Northern frontier Districts by The British East Africa Protectorate in 1922, until the North Eastern was curved out as a separate province in 1963 following the Lancaster House Constitutional conference.