By S. Hassanan Aerial view of Mandera town. Picture Courtesy of the County Government of Mandera
Only 18.7 percent of households of the total 23,400 units in Mandera County are headed by women making it the County with the least number of women-headed households in the country.
According to the Kenya Socio-Economic Atlas that was officially released on Monday, Samburu County is leading the list of Counties with the highest number of female – headed households.
The survey attributes Mandera County’s position to cultural practices and religious beliefs that encourage remarrying of widows.
Although women call the shots in other parts of the Country when they are in a better position economically, it is the opposite in Mandera and other Muslim inhabited Counties where men remain the heads of the family as entailed by Islam.
The survey indicates that up to one in every household in the semi-arid Northern region of Kenya is headed by a woman.
Nationally, the figure stands at one third of the country’s 8.5 million households.
Changing patterns of cultural practices, harsh economic conditions, inter-clan wars among other factors have played a big role in the reversed roles at the family front.
More women than ever are now educated and employed allowing them to sustain themselves and head families.
Planning Secretary Anne Waiguru said the government had released the information to support decision making by the private sector and in the counties.
“The government always held this detailed information for planning purposes, but we are releasing it to the public for the first time to ease decision making by (the) private sector and the counties,” she said, adding that the map is a user-friendly version of the Economic Survey that captures every little detail down to a sub-location level.
Mandera, with 77.3 per cent of its households having more than seven members, tops the list of counties with the largest families, followed by Wajir (64.7 per cent) and Turkana (54.7 per cent).
Technologically, only 1.3 per cent of Mandera residents use the Internet.