The Survey of Kenya (SK) was founded in 1906 and is
responsible for geodetic, topographic, photogrammetric and
cadastral surveying and the publication of official topographic
and cadastral maps of Kenya. Like other African countries
Kenya has used overseas aid donors to establish and maintain
its mapping, notably with British support until the 1980s
and subsequently with Japanese technical aid.
In 1947 a program started to provide modern base mapping
of the country in cooperation with the then Directorate
of Colonial Surveys, (now Ordnance Survey International
(OSI)). Maps in these programs followed the usual pattern
of British overseas mapping, and continue to use a Transverse
Mercator projection, modified Clarke 1880 ellipsoid. The
1:50,000 scale series was originally designated Y731, now series SK61. The 1:50,000 scale map was
originally intended to cover the more densely populated
southwestern and central parts of Kenya in about 435 sheets.
Early sheets appeared as monochrome planimetric editions;
later versions were published in color with contours every
50 ft. The current specification has replaced almost all of the
imperial maps, and conforms to East African practice of
neighbouring surveys in Tanzania and Uganda. Contours are
at 10 m, 20 m or 40 m, and the maps are compiled from
medium-scale vertical aerial coverage together with field
update. To the north of the original area of 1:50,000 scale
mapping the basic scale was a 1:100,000 scale map in 130
quadrangles, also compiled from aerial photography, but in
conjunction with the British Directorate of Military Survey. This was completed in 1970 and is
no longer revised. Instead the aim is to extend the 1:50,000
scale series north and eastwards, and to withdraw 1:100,000
scale mapping once the area is remapped. This will produce a
single basic scale for the whole country in 827 sheets. About
550 of these maps were compiled by 1999 and it is intended
to revise this map base every five years.
Experiments with digital production were carried out with
French aid in the mid-1990s, but in 1999 production still
relied upon a conventional cartographic flow line.
A 1:250,000 scale map covers Kenya in 48 sheets and is
derived from best available 1:50,000 or 1:100,000 scale
mapping. Border sheets are the joint responsibility of adjacent
surveys. This map was compiled as a joint project
between the British Directorate of Military Survey and SK
and was completed between 1958 and 1970. First editions
showed relief with layer coloring and imperial contour
intervals. Revision has continued to depend upon the availability
of updated larger scale parent sheets, and since 1979
has included metric contours. In 1984 experimental revisions
of two sheets in sparsely settled parts of Kenya used
LANDSAT imagery but were not contoured.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Kenya exists at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (7 sheets, complete coverage, published 1958-1984);
1:500,000 (17 sheets, complete coverage, published 1963-1980); 1:200,000 (23 sheets, primarily north and eastern coverage, published 1978-1983);
1:100,000 (57 sheets, primarily north and eastern coverage, published 1979-1982) and a city (1:10,000) topographic map of Nairobi published in 1979.
These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
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