The ban of miraa (khat) trade in the UK and the Netherlands has been cited as one of major threats to development in Meru County.
Other problems affecting the county are cattle rustling, border disputes with Tharaka Nithi and Isiolo counties and natural disasters such as drought, landslides and floods.
The County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP, 2013-2017) however says the county enjoys huge opportunities created by the Lamu Port South-Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) project and proximity to the Mt Kenya tourist sites.
The county further hopes to cash in on the construction of an airport in Isiolo County, availability of many rivers and water sources and its bordering the proposed resort city of Isiolo.
The CIDP adds that the county led by Governor Peter Munya also enjoys adequate raw materials which can be used for industrialisation.
UNTAPPED RESOURCES
The untapped rich Meru cultural practices and natural resources were also cited as a plus for the vast county.
Among the county’s strengths, the CIDP says, are availability of wide range of skilled labour, large tracts of arable land, favourable climate for agriculture, potential for irrigation agriculture, strategic location and hospitable people.
Meru County further boasts of fair infrastructural facilities including tarmac roads, telecommunication and electricity.
At the same time, many financial institutions have set base there.
WEAKNESSES
The CIDP names limited industrialisation, value addition to agricultural produce, vast un-adjudicated land, relatively high illiteracy levels, cultural rigidity, skewed distribution of education and health facilities and high understaffing across sectors as the county’s weaknesses.
The county which lies in eastern Kenya also suffers from poor soil conservation measures, poor subsistence agricultural practices and land subdivision.
The development plan notes that the tourism potential of the county is not fully exploited owing to poor road networks.
It says the county intends to enhance its competitiveness by investing in infrastructural development like roads, electricity, transport and housing and that Sh57 billion is to be raised and pumped into the projects in the next five years.