Established in 1998
At the beginning of the last century, the then larger diocese of Eldoret was a part of the Uganda protectorate and belonged to the ecclesiastical territory then known as the Vicariate of the Upper Nile. At the time, it was administered as part of western Kenya mission by the Mill Hill missionaries who were based in Kisumu. The western Kenya mission then, covered the entire area from Naivasha to Lodwar. It was part of the Vicariate of the upper Nile whose headquarters was in Mengo in Kampala. It was not until 1920 when Kenya became a colony, that it ceased to be administered from Kampala.
Eldoret became a resident mission in 1929. At that time, it also served as a base for priests who travelled to Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Baringo and Keiyo Marakwet to establish catechumenate and secure plots for schools and parishes. It was then that the early missionaries opened the following churches in the present-day diocese of Kitale, i.e. Tartar in 1946, Kituro and Tambach in 1944, Nerkwo in 1947, and Kiminini church in 1951. The Kiminini a co-education TTC was also established in 1951 and was later moved to St. Joseph’s near Kitale. The Kitale Immaculate Conception church was established in 1918.
In 1952, the prefecture of Eldoret was established with St. Patrick’s Kiltegan Fathers. In 1953, their missionary priest, Msgr Joseph Brendan Houlihan was appointed the Prefect Apostolic of Eldoret, which covered the entire area from Naivasha to Kitale to Lodwar and parts of western province.
In April 1998, Rome announced that a new Catholic Diocese of Kitale (CDK) had been established comprising the Counties of West Pokot and Trans Nzoia. It was also announced that Msgr. Maurice Anthony Crowley, who was then the Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret had been appointed its first Bishop. He was ordained on 15 th August 1998.
It then established eight diocesan departments. These were: the vocations, education (which includes religious education), family life education, development and social services, Justice and Peace, water, health (which includes handicapped persons) and the social communication department. Currently, the Catholic Diocese of Kitale is one of the 26 Catholic jurisdictions in Kenya with 35 parishes served by Diocesan as well as religious priests.
Geographical Location and Size
The two Counties cover an area of approximately 11,665.0 square kilometers. Of this, Trans Nzoia County covers an area of 2,495.6 square kilometers or 21.4 percent, while West Pokot covers an area of 9,169.4 square kilometers or 78.6 percent.
As per the said 2019 population and housing census, the entire Republic of Kenya had a total population of 47,564,296 million. Thus, the population of the Catholic Diocese of Kitale of 1,611,582 is 3.39 percent.
Administrative Units and Parishes
Trans Nzoia County comprises of 5 administrative sub-Counties namely; Kiminini, Saboti, Cherangany, Endebess and Kwanza. Trans Nzoia County comprises of a total of 21 Catholic parishes. The table below shows the administrative units, their sizes and the number of parishes in each unit.
West Pokot County comprises of 4 administrative sub-Counties namely; Pokot West, Pokot South, Pokot Central and Pokot North. West Pokot County comprises of a total of 14 Catholic parishes.
Overall in both Counties, just as it is nationally, continuous urbanization, privatization of land
and climate change are threatening the major economic activities namely, agriculture and
livestock keeping. These two Counties also face other economic challenges such as high
unemployment, poor infrastructure, limited value addition to local products, high inflation that
reduces peoples’ purchasing power, land based conflicts, low literacy levels and high cost of
Majority of the people in the diocese of Kitale live in the rural areas. They practice mixed
farming; combining agriculture with livestock keeping. It is estimated that some eighty percent
of the population in the diocese is involved in agriculture and livestock keeping.
The situation in the sector of agriculture varies from one area to the other. This is because of the
various ecological zones that exist, the way of living of the people, land use patterns, and
opportunities of income earning through cash crop production and subsistence farming and/or
Trans Nzoia is agriculturally a high potential County. It is famed for its production of maize.
However, there is widespread unemployment and poverty in the area, fuelled by uneconomical
land sizes, landlessness, marginalisation, conflicts, unemployment, unstable markets and the
effects of HIV/AIDS pandemic.
During the colonial era, the white settlers occupied the entire Trans Nzoia County, most of them
from South Africa. They practiced large-scale farming mostly for wheat and maize production.
Some of these large farms still exist.
Most of these large farms are now owned mainly by the rural elites, co-operatives and/or the
Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC). Many large farms, previously bought by land-
buying cooperatives and companies have been subdivided into small plots and given to
People living in the lowlands of West Pokot are mainly nomadic pastoralists who
depend largely on their livestock combined with a little subsistence farming.
Most government or parastatal organisations in the diocese are based in Kitale town e.g.
Agricultural Finance Co-operation (AFC), National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) and the
Kenya Seed Company (KSC). In both Counties, the informal sector absorbs thousands of
West Pokot is a vast, mountainous, semi-arid region, comprising of small communities living in
remote and isolated areas. Nomadic pastoralists graze cattle and goats throughout its interior.
Residents of the two main centres namely; Kapenguria and Ortum, are engaged in small-scale
farming, petty merchandising and sale of livestock especially poultry, goats and cattle. The main
issues facing the people of West Pokot include; limited access to affordable health services,
education and the availability of clean water.
In West Pokot, land is largely communally owned. Cases of landlessness are minimal with most
parts of the land being unutilized because of communal ownership.
Most parts of Pokot Central
and all of Pokot North sub-Counties are communally owned. Cattle rustling with the
neighbouring Turkana County is a common occurrence.
Nomadism is common in the County especially in Pokot north. However, agricultural production
is fast emerging as a dominant economic undertaking. The main crops produced include maize,
finger millet, potatoes, beans, onions sweet potatoes, green grams, peas, mangoes, oranges,
bananas, coffee and pyrethrum.
Like in Trans Nzoia County, maize is the staple food in West Pokot County. It is mainly grown
in Pokot West sub-County. Potatoes and pyrethrum are grown in Pokot South Sub-County.
However, these food crops produced do not meet the food requirements of the County.
16 group ranches in West Pokot County covering an area of 125,072 ha. Most of the ranches are
situated in Pokot Central and North Sub-Counties. Most of these ranches are communally
organized. There is great potential for irrigation farming especially in Kainuk Loyapat region.
Distribution of industries is rather poor in both Counties. However, there are a few industries that
mainly concentrate on food processing especially maize. There are central storage facilities for
Other sources of conflicts arise due to livestock raids and historical rivalry frequent along County boundary lines especially with Turkana and Egeyo Marakwet Counties. Among the Pokots, intra-community conflicts largely occur due to land disputes. Land ownership in the County is both communal and freehold. Most of the communal lands, where pastoralism predominates, are found in the lowlands while freehold land ownership is largely in the highlands where land is arable.
The need to access the available land resources, during the dry spell, triggers conflicts between community members living on the lowlands and the highlands. These inter-community conflicts are the most prevalent conflict in the County and are caused by historical rivalry, cattle rustling and competition for water and pasture. Some of the impact associated with conflicts includes loss of lives, displacement of people, destruction of property and loss of livelihood.
Following the promulgation of the 2010 constitution, Kenya’s development model is anchored on a devolved governance structure, comprising 47 Counties. Basic service provision has been devolved to the County government level to create an enabling climate for accelerated development, poverty reduction, investment, and employment creation. The Diocese of Kitale is keen to tap on the opportunities that exist in the Counties by collaborating with the Trans Nzoia and West Pokot County governments on development and service delivery.
The internet connectivity has shaped Kenya’s transactional systems in both the telecommunications and banking businesses. Kenya has bypassed the analogue age and has jumped straight into mobile digital networks. This, combined with few people having traditional bank accounts, provides the perfect setting for a thriving mobile payments-based economy. The growth of social media in Kenya today is phenomenal. Every happening is well monitored by Kenyans on Twitter (KOT).
It is overshadowing the mainstream media. A large following means influence in terms of providing information. High speed internet connectivity will exacerbate Kenya’s technological capabilities. These developments are fast resulting in more efficient transport, higher potential for the use of alternative energy and possibilities for increased agricultural production including in the diocese of Kitale.
On the social level, evangelization and pastoral work in the diocese of Kitale has greater potential due to general access of people linked to improved infrastructure and wider internet access. It is in view of this that the diocese strives to professionalize its website and expand its use with timely interactions with users including individual and corporate donors, reviewing its website pages from time to time for re-designing, maintaining live Q&A sessions with users, staying current with unfolding events, updating videos and photos, photo shooting and maintaining live connections of the website with the official Diocese’s Facebook and other social media accounts.
(Inspired by Jesus call “Go therefore and make disciplines of all nations” (Mt. 28:19)) To build a faith community called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit; to deepen evangelization and promote holistic human development; through worshipping God, living our Catholic identity, and serving others through compassion, love and justice, unity and peace”.
To be a vibrant, dedicated and loving community of God, living fulfilled and dignified lives.
The Catholic Diocese of Kitale is based on the Christian ethical values of democracy, justice,
truth, equity, solidarity, compassion, love, forgiveness, humility, patience, and openness. In the
spirit of Inculturation as promulgated by the African Synod of 2009, the diocese also believes in quality African values of communion, unity, sharing and hospitality. Based on these, the core
values of the diocese are therefore as follows: