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Upper East is located in the north-eastern corner of the country between longitude 00 and 10 West and latitudes 100 30”N and 110N. It is bordered to the north by Burkina Faso, the east by the Republic of Togo, the west by Sissala in Upper West and the south by West Mamprusi in Northern Region (Figure 1). The land is relatively flat with a few hills to the East and southeast. The total land area is about 8,842 sq km, which translates into 2.7 per cent of the total land area of the country.
The region`s soil is “upland soil” mainly developed from granite rocks. It is shallow and low in soil fertility, weak with low organic matter content, and predominantly coarse textured. Erosion is a problem. Valley areas have soils ranging from sandy candy loams to salty clays. They have higher natural fertility but are more difficult to till and are prone to seasonal waterlogging and floods. Drainage is mainly by the White and Red Volta and Sissili Rivers (Regional Coordinating Unit, 2003).
The natural vegetation is that of the savannah woodland characterised by short scattered drought-resistant trees and grass that gets burnt by bushfire or scorched by the sun during the long dry season. Human interference with ecology is significant, resulting in near semi-arid conditions. The most common economic trees are the sheanut, dawadawa, boabab and acacia.
The climate is characterized by one rainy season from May/June to September/October. The mean annual rainfall during this period is between 800 mm and 1.100 mm. The rainfall is erratic spatially and in duration. There is a long spell of dry season from November to mid February, characterized by cold, dry and dusty harmattan winds. Temperatures during this period can be as low as 14 degrees centigrade at night, but can go to more than 35 degrees centigrade during the daytime.
Humidity is, however, very low making the daytime high temperature less uncomfortable. The region is entirely within the “Meningitis Belt” of Africa. It is also within the onchocerciasis zone, but with the control of the disease, large areas of previously abandoned farmlands have been declared suitable for settlement and farming.
Political and administrative structure
The region is administered politically from Bolgatanga. The main administrative structure at the regional level is the Regional Co-ordinating Council (RCC), headed by the Regional Minister.
Other members of the RCC include representatives from each district assembly, regional heads of decentralized ministries, and representatives of the Regional House of Chiefs. The region has 6 administrative districts3, namely Builsa, Kassena-Nankana, Bongo, Bolgatanga, Bawku West and Bawku East.
Each district is administered by a Municipal/District Assembly headed by a Chief Executive nominated by the President and approved by a two-thirds majority of the Assembly Members present and voting. Two-thirds of the members of the Assembly are directly elected. The other one-third is appointed by the Central Government. Members of Parliament are exofficio members of the Assemblies of the districts in which their constituencies are located.
The districts are autonomous with regard to the planning, budgeting and implementation of projects. The Districts are further subdivided into Area/Town Councils/Unit Committees , Talensi-Nabdam (carved out of Bolgatanga) with its capital at Tongo and Garu-Tempane (carved out of Bawku East) with its capital at Garu Tempane, have been created.
with their own designated roles. There is also effective traditional leadership and vibrant Youth Development Associations to facilitate efficient and effective mobilization of local resources. Within the region there are currently twelve (12) political parliamentary constituencies. These are Builsa South, Navrongo Central, Chiana-Paga, Bongo, Bolgatanga, Sandema, Talensi, Nabdan, Zebilla, Binduri, Bawku Central and Garu-Tempane.
Post and telecommunications
Postal services are available in large settlements (Bolgatanga, Bongo, Zebilla, Navrongo, Sandema and Bawku). Telecommunication linkages are also available at Bolgatanga, Navrongo, Sandema Bongo and Bawku. Linkages of district capitals are poor and in some cases not operational e.g. Bongo and Sandema. Private communications centres have sprung up, especially in Bolgatanga, Navrongo and Bawku. Teledensity (phones/per 100 populations is very low in the region (0.1) compared to the national density of 0.7).
The towns on the national grid in the region include Bolgatanga, Navrongo, Sandema, Bawku, Zebilla Chuchuliga, Chiana, Pwalugu, Tongo, Kongo, Garu, Bongo and Nangodi.
Fuel wood for cooking is scarce and the dried stem of sorghum and millet are mostly used for that purpose. The use of liquefied petroleum gas is being encouraged. There is a fuel depot at Bolgatanga for the storage of petroleum products.
About 51 per cent of the region`s population have access to potable drinking water. Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) supplies pipe-born water to Bolgatanga, Chuchuliga, Zebilla, Bawku, Sandema, Navrongo, Bongo and Paga.
Almost two thousand (1,627) hand pumps (boreholes) and a number of hand-dug wells serve a majority of the rural populations. While water treated for consumption in Bolgatanga is from the Vea Dam, the pipe-born water systems in the other townships make use of mechanised boreholes. The dam is also used for irrigation and fish farming.
The orthodox health service in the region is organised in a four-tier system: regional, district, sub-district and community levels. The Regional Health Directorate is responsible for the overall health service planning, organisation, monitoring, supervision, evaluation and provision of technical support to districts. The Regional Hospital located at Bolgatanga is the second level referral centre in the region.
There are four district hospitals which provide first level referral services. These are Sandema, the War Memorial Hospital (Navrongo), Zebilla and Bawku Presbyterian Hospital. The Bongo Health Centre is in the process of being upgraded into a district hospital. There are 26 health centres and 36 clinics. There are also maternity homes and nine dressing centres. The region has three Midwifery Schools and one State Registered Nursing School. Navrongo also has a Health Research Centre.
Basic education facilities are available in almost all communities. There are 449 primary Schools, 177 JSS and 23 SSS. Private basic schools are found in Bolgatanga, Navrongo and Bawku.
The majority of the people live in huts built of mud and roofed with straw or zinc. The main features of the predominantly traditional architecture are round huts with flat roofs and small windows with poor ventilation.
Agriculture, hunting and forestry are the main economic activities in the region. About eighty per cent of the economically active population engages in agriculture. The main produce are millet, guinea-corn, maize, groundnut, beans, sorghum and dry season tomatoes and onions.
Livestock and poultry production are also important. There are two main irrigation projects, the Vea Project in Bolgatanga covering 850 hectares and the Tono Project in Navrongo covering 2,490 hectares. Altogether they provide employment to about 6,000 small-scale farmers. Other water-retaining structures (dams and dugouts) provide water for both domestic and agricultural purposes.
Industrial activity in the region is generally low, with only one industry in operation at the moment. This is the newly built cotton ginnery at Pusu-Namongo (near Bolgatanga). Other existing industries are the Tomato Canning Factory (GIHOC) at Pwalugu, the Meat Processing Factory (GIHOC) at Zuarungu and the Rice Mills at Bolgatanga.
These three factories are not operational and have been earmarked for divestiture. The two forms of extractive activities in the region are mining and quarrying. While the quarrying industry is being actively exploited the same cannot be said about the mining industry.
There are two commercial quarries in the region namely, the Upper Quarry Limited located at Pwalugu on the Bolgatanga-Tamale road and the Granites and Marbles Company Limited located in Tongo. The former produces granite chippings for the construction industry whilst the latter cuts rocks in the form of bricks for export. These are polished and used in the cladding of commercial buildings and monuments.
The gold mining industry is not very developed in the region. Gold was mined during the colonial administration around Nangodi, about 24 kms from Bolgatanga on the Bolgatanga- Bawku road. Mining activities however stopped in 1930. Lately, small-scale gold mining, popularly known as “galamsey” (gather and sell) or “alakpiri” has become rampant in the area of Tongo, Sheaga, Duusi, Pelengu and other small villages. This gives an indication of the existence of mineral deposits in viable quantities.
It is also known that deposits of manganese exist in the areas between Nangodi and Duusi and to the North West of Pwalugu. Small-scale industries constitute the most important industries in the region. This is due to the simple technology involved, the availability of local inputs and linkages between them and other economic activities.
These crafts, varied as they are, include, pottery, basketry and smock weaving which is done at areas like Namoo, Zokko, Navrongo and Paga. Leatherworks are carried out at areas around Bolgatanga and the surrounding villages. Straw works are also concentrated around Bolgatanga. One distinct feature of these cottage industries is that they are basically labour intensive and rely mostly on traditional talent and skill.
The region is not left out when it comes to sites and scenes of tourist interest. They are numerous tourist attractions in the region, notable among which are the Paga Crocodile Pond, the Bolgatanga Museum which houses objects of historical importance of the region and the Kulungugu Bomb site, where an attempt was made on the life of Ghana`s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Others are the three point elevation at Pusiga, where the tip of the boundary demarcation between the three sister countries of Ghana, Burkina Faso and Togo converge, the Tongo hills and the Navrongo Cathedral with its eloquent constructional and decorational designs which portray the beauty in the art of the people.
The archaeological treasures of the River Sissili Basin, the Whistling and Drumming rocks at Pwalugu and Chiana, the Awologo-Tango at Bongo, wall decoration at Tilli, Kandiga, famous shrines and caves also constitute places of culture and tourist attractions.
Festivals such as the Feok, Samapiid, Azambene, Gologo, and Fowl are celebrated by the people of Builsa, Bawku East, Bongo, Bolgatanga-Tongo and Kassena-Nankana. These draw a lot of tourists to the region. Sandema in Builsa is famous as the site where Builsa warriors captured and killed the slave mauranders, Samori and Babatu, to mark the end of the slave trade in the northern part of Ghana.
Despite these potentials, the region lacks the necessary infrastructure and other services to support and market this industry. The region will require massive investment to develop this potential and to create jobs.
There is a great potential in the region for the large-scale production of rice especially in the now onchocerciasis (river blindness) free zone. Infact, this zone, which is around Fumbisi- Gbedembillisi area, is normally termed the “rice-bowl” of the region. This area has vast lands and suitable soil, which if properly exploited, would give high yield of rice.
The region also has a great potential in the area of cash crop production and fish farming. This is due to the existence of many irrigation sites in the region. In addition to the Vea and Tono irrigation dams, there are more than 220 dams and dugouts in the region, which have lands suitable for crops such as onion, tomatoes and pepper.
Livestock rearing is also a common agriculture activity among the people in the region. The region has about 18 per cent of the cattle and 9 per cent of the small ruminants in the country. There is an annual supply of 50,000 cattle, 40,000 sheep and 40,000 goats to the southern sector for consumption from the region.
Poultry is mostly local birds and domesticated guinea fowls. Most of these livestock are kept on an unimproved scavenging regime, although some supplementary feeding is done especially during the dry season. Potential investors therefore have a lot to gain since the region has a great potential for commercial livestock and poultry rearing.
In spite of the relatively developed nature of the mining and quarrying industry, the industry has potential for further development. Potential investors therefore stand to gain from the sector, considering the ‘ready-market` available and the existence of large tracks of granite rock outcrops especially in Chiana and its environs.
This however has to be against the background of a feasibility study with the lifespan of the deposits and a comprehensive environmental impact assessment. It is also known that large deposits of manganese exist in areas between Nangodi and Duusi and to the north west of Pwalugu.
No exploitation of this mineral has been carried out yet. Investors could therefore take advantage of this. There is a large prospect in the region for investors wishing to go into brick and tile production because of the availability of large deposits of clay of various types. Areas with clay deposits include Gambibgo, Zanlerigu, Yikini and Kalbeo.
Burnt bricks produced from clay deposits can be used in the development of cheaper housing, which is in line with the government`s policy of developing the rural dweller using more local resources. Thus, this should be an incentive to potential investors.
As already indicated, small -scale industries constitute the most important industries in the region. An investment in this sector (especially in basketry, leather works and smock weaving) in the form of the injection of capital would help expand production to meet the growing demand for these crafts outside the country.
Markets abound for these crafts in countries such as Britain, Germany and the USA. Already, these constitute a large proportion of non-traditional exports.
The population of the region is 920,089, which is less than one twentieth (4.9%) of the national population. This however is an increase of 19 per cent over the 1984 figure of 722,744, which is the lowest rate of increase among all the regions in the country.
The inter censual growth rate of 1.1 per cent per annum is slightly below one-half the national growth rate of 2.7 per cent and is the lowest regional growth rate recorded. The region`s population density of 104.1 persons per square kilometre is higher than the national density of 79.3 persons per square kilometre and ranks fifth in the country.
The population is primarily rural (84.3%) and scattered in dispersed settlements. There are generally no distinct boundaries between communities as compounds in contiguous villages over lap. The rural population in 1984 was 87.1 percent. There was, thus, a 2.8 percentage point reduction in the rural share of the population between 1984 and 2000.
The slight increase in the urban share of the population has been due mainly to increase in population of existing urban centres. Only 2 towns, Garu and Pusiga have grown from rural to urban localities since 1984. Garu increased from 3,104 in 1984 to 5,057 in 2000, while Pusiga grew from 1,125 to 6,823 over the same period. The largest growth in urban proportion occurred in Bawku (34,074 to 51,379) and Bolgatanga (32,495 to 49,162). Some urban centres however decreased in population (e.g., Navrongo, Paga).
With only 15.7 per cent of the population living in urban areas, the region is the least urbanized in the country. In fact, together with Upper West, they are the two regions with a less than 20 per cent urban population.
As an increasing number of children mature and enter the reproductive years, the number of women in child bearing ages 15-49 years will increase. A large increase in the number of women of childbearing ages inevitably means more children (i.e. in terms of total quantity) even though individual women may give birth to fewer children than their mothers.
The simple explanation is that there are just so many more women available to give births. Women of childbearing ages 15-49 comprise 24.9 per cent the total population of the region in 2000, compared with 23 per cent in 1984.
Age structure by sex
The age structure for the sexes shows that in the region, there are more females than males. This, however, varies by age. The proportion of males aged 0-19 years (56.3%) is higher than that for females (49.0%). Between ages 20 and 64 years, there is a higher proportion of females (45.1%) than males (36.8%), while those 65 years and older are 6.8 per cent males compared to 5.9 per cent females. In the female reproductive age group of 15-49 years, there is an overall excess of females (44.3%) over males (39.2%) of about 13.0 percent.
The observed age-sex structure of the region follows very closely the pattern found at the national level where there are more females than males in almost every age group from ages twenty up to seventy-four. It is important to note, however, that although the regional proportions at the various age groups follow the national pattern, there are substantial differences in the magnitude of the proportions between the country as a whole and the region.
The higher excess of female in the adult age groups within the region compared to the national picture may be due partly to long-term out migration of able - bodied men to the southern regions of the country and to a lesser extent due to higher male mortality in ethnic conflicts.
The excess of females has implications for agriculture and food production given the known traditional male control of access to land and landownership in the region. The implications of the female excess for sexual and reproductive behaviours should also be a matter of great concern even after taking into account the mitigating effects of the practice of polygamy.
For the elderly population (70 years and older), the pattern of more males than females is repeated. The sex ratios reflect the observed pattern which is contrary to the expected pattern of more females than males at the older ages, and may be partly due to exaggeration of age by elderly men. The sex distribution of the region`s population favours females. There are 92.6 males to 100 females, which is a slight increase over the 91.0 males per 100 females in 1984.
Age dependency burden/ratio
The dependency ratio of 99.2 in 2000 for the region is a slight increase from the 96.7 in 1984. The ratio implies that there is roughly one dependent person for every economically active adult. This trend has serious implications for socio-economic planning.
The need to provide for the economically dependent persons puts pressure on the resources of the region and individual families. On the whole, children are particularly dependent. They must be housed, fed, clothed, educated and provided with health care and other services that either take a long time to yield dividends or have no immediate bearing on economic growth.
Age structure of labour force
The region has a large and youthful labour force, which, if properly managed, can become a great economic asset. About 56 per cent (55.7 percent) of the labour force is below 35 years.
Nationally the labour force aged 15-34 years shrank slightly from 63.7 per cent of the total labour force in 1984 to 61.1 per cent in 2000, while those aged 35-64 increased between 1984 and 2000.
For the region, also, the labour force aged 15-34 years shrank slightly from 56.4 per cent of the total labour force in 1984 to 55.7 per cent in 2000, while those aged 35-64 increased marginally. These changes in the age structure of the labour force need to be taken into account in formulating short/medium and long-term policies and planned programmes.
Nationality and ethnicity
Ghanaians by birth or parenthood constitute 92.5 per cent of the population of the region. Naturalized Ghanaians constitute 5.3 per cent and the rest are non-Ghanaians. There are far fewer non-Ghanaians (2.1 percent) than naturalised Ghanaians.
Ethnicity of Ghanaians
The main ethnic groups in the region are the Mole-Dagbon, Grusi, Mande-Busanga and Gurma. Among the Mole-Dagbon, the Nabdam, Kusasi, Nankani/Gurense and Builsa are significant. The significant other subgroups are the Kassena among the Grusi, the Busanga among the Mande-Busanga and the Bimoba among the Gurma.
The regional picture however changes, depending on the base district of the ethnic groups. The Nabdam who form 30.5 per cent of the region`s population, make up 94.2 per cent of the population of Bongo and 83.8 per cent of the population of Bolgatanga. The Builsa, who constitute 7.6 per cent of the region`s population, make up 84.1 per cent of the population of Builsa. The Kassena and the Nankani, who make up 15.7 per cent of the region`s population, together make up 88.3 per cent of the population of Kassena-Nankana.
The Kusasis make up 22.6 per cent of the region`s total population, but they make up about 75 per cent of the population of Bawku West and 47.6 per cent of the population of Bawku East. The Busanga also make up about 6 per cent of the region`s population and are mostly in Bawku East (15.4%) and Bawku West (7.8%).
The Mamprusi comprise only 1.8 per cent of the region`s population. They are thinly spread in the districts. The highest concentration is in the Bawku East district where they comprise 3.7 per cent of the population. However, the two adjacent districts in the Northern region, which are located to the South of Bawku East and Bawku West, are mostly Mamprusi.
Bawku East is the most mixed district in terms of ethnic groups. Only the Kusasi and the Busanga constitute more than ten per cent of the population. The two ethnic groups account for 63 per cent of the population. The remaining 37 per cent is made up of over thirty other ethnic groups, including the Bimoba and the Mamprusi. The socio-cultural problems that can arise as a result of the ethnic diversity of Bawku East often manifested in the many ethnic conflicts in the district.
Three main religious groupings are found in the region, namely the Traditional (46.4%), Christianity (28.3%) and Islam (22.6%). Builsa has the highest proportion of Traditionalists (63.7%) followed by Bawku West (61.9%). The lowest proportion (26.8%) is in Bawku East where Islam (51.1%) is the predominate religion.
The second major religion is Christianity, constituting of 28.3 percent; it is not predominant in any district. Within the Christian religion, the Catholics are in the majority. This is explained in terms of the work of the Order of the White Fathers who arrived in Navrongo in 1906 and began proselytizing the northern territories.
Following the Catholics (57.7%) are the Pentecostal/Charismatic groups (21.7%) and Protestants (12.3%). The regional picture is replicated in all the districts (irrespective of the size of the Christian population) except Bawku West where the Pentecostal/Charismatic group constitutes the majority of Christian population.
Educational Attainment and literacy
The high correlation between levels of education and positive health and other social indicators makes education a very important variable in any development planning at the district level. Higher education, especially of women, is usually associated with greater knowledge and use of sound health practices and family planning methods.
Successive governments introduced various policies aimed at reducing illiteracy among the population to the barest minimum. The current programme of Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (fCUBE) is supposed to guarantee free education to all children of school going age.
Although the information on school attendance was collected for everybody aged 3 years or older, official school entry age in the country is 6 years. The analysis therefore focuses mainly on the school attendance of persons aged 6 years and older, while the data for the 3-5 years are presented to show the extent of pre-schooling, which has become official policy, but is not fully enforced. Of the total of 19,469 children aged 3-5 years in the region who are in school, 77.2 per cent are in pre-school and 22.8 per cent are in primary school.
While the start-up for primary school is age 6, a few pupils start at age 5. The proportion of boys (76.5%) and girls (77.9%) who are in pre-school is about the same. For the country as a whole, the proportion of the population that has ever attended school is 60.4 per cent (66.2% of males and 54.8% of females).
The gap in the educational attainment between the country and the region is still very wide. The lack of education in the region is not due only to general poverty and cultural practices but also to the very late introduction of education into the region.
A comparison of the data on school attendance shows that there has been some improvement in the region. In 1984, 82.3 per cent of the population aged 6 years or older had never attended school and this proportion dropped to 69.4 per cent in 2000.
Among the males, the proportion that had never attended school was 75.6 per cent in 1984, but reduced to 64.0 per cent in 2000. Although the proportion of females who had never attended school is still higher than that for males, the proportion has reduced from 88.1 per cent in 1984 to 74.4 per cent in 2000.
At the district level, Bawku East has the highest proportion (77.3%) of the 6 years and older who have never attended school (91.3% males and 82.7% females). This situation is most likely due to the combined effects of the late introduction of Western education, the influence of Islamic religion, general poverty and other cultural practices. The lowest proportion (61.2%) is in Bolgatanga (55.9% males and 66.2% females).
The problem with education is the large number of persons aged 6 years and older who have never attended school. The data shows that in the region, more females than males have never attended school. When the population who have ever attended school is isolated, the levels attained are not significantly different between males and females. Primary school is the highest level attained by 52.4 per cent in the region.
Three-quarters (74.5%) of those who have attended school in the region reached only primary or middle/JSS levels. The proportion of males who have attended school in the region who reached primary school level is 18.0 percent, compared to 14.3 per cent for females. About 8.1 per cent males and 5.5 per cent females attainted middle/JSS level.
Thus put together the proportion of females in the region (19.8%) with primary and middle/JSS is lower than that for males (26.1%). A higher proportion (9.4%) of males attain higher levels of schooling than females (5.3%).
Only 3.5 per cent who have ever attended school reached secondary/SSS level. This is made up of 4.5 per cent males and 2.6 per cent females. The proportion with the vocational/technical/commercial level is 1.3 percent, made up of 1.7 per cent males and 1.0 per cent females.
Those with post-secondary level (agricultural schools, nursing training schools and teacher training colleges) make up 2.5 percent, with 3.2 per cent being males and 1.7 per cent females. About 1.0 per cent attained the tertiary level, made up of 1.4 per cent males and 0.8 per cent females.
A comparison with the national situation also shows that there is significant difference between the proportions of males and females who have never attended school. Although the differences between the region and the total country for various educational levels, the differences are very large. For example 45.8 per cent at the national level attained up to middle/JSS, while at the regional level it is 22.7 percent.
The data shows that within each district, three out of every four persons (74.5%) who had ever attended school attained primary or middle/JSS level. The proportion ranges from 72.2 per cent in Bolgatanga to 81.1 per cent in Bawku West. Within the districts at least 10 per cent attained JSS/SSS level except Bongo (9.7%) and Bawku West (8.6%).
The proportion that attained Vocational/Technical/Commercial education level ranges from 2.9 per cent in Bawku West to 5.2 per cent in Bolgatanga. The proportion that attained Secondary/Teacher Training level varies from 3.0 per cent in Bawku West to 5.2 per cent in Kassena-Nankana. Only 3.5 per cent of those who had ever attended school reached the tertiary level varying from 2.3 per cent in Builsa to 4.0 per cent in Bongo.
The much-discussed educational difference between males and females in the region is due, as much to differences in initial enrolment, as to differences in school achievement. Since fewer females than males have attended school there is bound to be fewer females at each level of education, even assuming the ideal situation of females achieving the same school continuation rates as males.
Data on current enrolment show that the gap between boys and girls in school attendance still exists. In each district and at almost every level, more boys than girls are enrolled; Builsa is the exception, where the majority of pupils are girls. Generally, at every level the proportion of girls progressing to the next grade reduces from one grade to the other.
The 2000 Census results show that only 23.5 per cent of the region`s population (15 years and older) are literate in either English or a known Ghanaian language (7.0% are literate in both). For the region as a whole and for each district, illiteracy is higher for females than for males. The overall level of literacy is about 80 per cent or higher in three districts, Builsa (79.8%), Bawku East (81.2%) and Bawku East (87.0%). For females, the level is below 80 per cent in Kassena-Nankana (78.6%), Bolgatanga (76.3%) and Bongo (74.9%).
Much of literature and mass communication is in English. This means that the level of effective literacy (literate in English only or literate in English and a Ghanaian language) is only 21.4 per cent in the region. Among the districts, Bolgatanga (27.7%) has the highest effective literacy level with 34.2 per cent for males and 22.0 for females. The lowest effective communication level (12.0%) is in Bawku West with 17.4 per cent for males and 8.2 per cent for females.
Three districts (Builsa (17.3%), Bawku West (12.0%) and Bawku East (16.5%)) all have literacy below 20 percent. These are the same three districts with very low levels of school attendance. In view of the fact that current publications effectively exclude the proportion literate in Ghanaian language only, greater efforts need to be made to translate very useful reading communication materials as well as publish newspapers in Ghanaian languages.
Literacy in a Ghanaian language is low in the region. The proportion literate in a Ghanaian language (Ghanaian language only and English and Ghanaian language) is 8.3 per cent compared to the proportion literate in English only (14.4%). At the national level, the proportion literate in a Ghanaian language/English and a Ghanaian language is 40.6 per cent compared to 16.4 per cent literate in English only.
In the districts, the proportion literate in a Ghanaian language ranges from 0.5 per cent of the population aged 15 years and older in Bawku West to 2.6 per cent in Bongo. The low level of literacy in a Ghanaian language in the region may imply that the teaching of Ghanaian languages in schools in the region is not being pursued in a sustainable manner.
The differences in the proportion which are in the “effective functional literacy” category and the proportions literate in a Ghanaian language may also imply that literacy is acquired mostly in the classroom setting than through the existing adult education or functional literacy programmes.
The main occupations in the region in order of magnitude are, agriculture and related work (65.9%), production and transport equipment work (14.5%), sales work (9.5%) service work (3.9%), and professional, technical and related work 3.8 per cent. The five together make up 97.6 per cent of all occupations. The occupational structure of the region is thus not very diverse.
The substantial lack of formal sector, office based bureaucratic activities in the region is reflected in the fact that only 1.7 per cent of the economically active are engaged in administrative, managerial, clerical and related work. About two out of every three are in agriculture (66.4%).
The rank order of the five occupations is same for males and females. The proportion of females in sales work (13.3%) is twice that of males (5.8%). The proportion of males in agriculture is 71.8 per cent compared with 61.2 per cent females
The three major industrial activities at the national level are agriculture, including hunting and forestry (49.1%) wholesale and retail trade (15.2%) and manufacturing (10.9%). Significantly, these remain the three major activities for both sexes in the region.
The proportional shares of the three industry groups in the region are agriculture, including hunting and forestry (67.2%), manufacturing (11.3%) and wholesale and retail trade (9.6%). All the remaining industry groups make up about one eighth (11.9%) of activities in the region, compared with 24.8 per cent at the national level. Education (2.8% for males) and hotels and restaurants (1.8 % for females) deserve mention as the fourth major activities in the region.
Another important classification of the characteristics of the economically active population is by employment status. Almost three in four of the economically active are self-employed without employee (74.5%). Unpaid family workers are the next highest group with 14.0 percent.
Employees constitute only 6.5 per cent and the self-employed with employees make up 2.7 percent. Domestic employees or house helps constitute less than one per cent (0.6%). Apprentices and others make up the remaining 1.6 percent.
Employees and the self-employed with employees (who could be taxed at source) make up only 9 percent. Males and females show a similar proportional pattern except for the employee category where there are approximately two males to each female employee.
The private sector, made up of the private formal (21.2%), private informal (74.0%), NGO/International Organizations, and others (0.2%) provides employment to 95.4% per cent of the working population in the region. Only 4 per cent are in the public sector and 0.2 per cent are employed by the semi public/parastatal sector.
The size of the private informal sector, made up largely of self-employed persons without employees most of whom are normally not even registered, affects the tax revenue base of the region since direct tax deduction becomes a problem.
Working children (population aged 7-14 years)
A total of 69,094 children of school going aged 7-14 years are reported to be working fulltime. The majority (54.5%) of them are boys. The number of children working represents a little over one in three (34.0%) of the total population aged 7-14 years. The proportion of males of school going age who are working is 35.3 per cent and that of females is 32.7 percent.
The fact that children at these ages are already gainfully employed is a reflection of the extent of child labour in the region. Almost all of these children are engaged in agriculture (77.9%), production and transport equipment (9%), service work (8%) and sales work (4.4%).
The working children are almost entirely in the private informal sector and are either selfemployed without employees (63.1%) or are unpaid family workers (29.8%); about five per cent are employees. Contrary to the popular perception that children are used as househelp, child domestic employees make up only 3 per cent while other employees make up 1.7 percent.
Population size, growth rate and density
The region`s population of 920,089 is not evenly distributed among the six districts.
Growth and density
Intercensal growth rates and changes in population densities between 1984 and 2000 are not available for the districts, because Ghana changed from the local authorities system of administration to the district assembly system in 1988. The country was demarcated into 138 districts out of the existing 140 local authorities. The boundaries of the districts do not necessarily conform to the boundaries of the local authorities but are coterminous with regional boundaries.
Age and sex structure
The age structure of the population of the region indicates a broad base that gradually tapers off with increasing age. This regional picture is reflected at the districts level. The age-structures of the districts are examined in broad and sometimes overlapping segments namely: children under fives years (0-4 years), children below 15 years, youth aged 15-19 years, the conventional working force age group of 15-64 years and the conventional aged dependent group of 65 years and older
In every district, about one out of every eight persons is a child below 5 years. The size of each segment has implications for the demand for social services, future population growth, youth unemployment, the overall dependency burden, as well as the total working force of the district.
The population below 15 years falls within the range of 40.6 per cent in Kassena-Nankana to 46.4 per cent in Bawku West. The data show that, in all the districts, about two out of every five persons are children who, even granted the phenomenon of working children, are dependent on others for their needs.
The youth aged 15-19 years are between 8 and 10 per cent in all the districts. When the youth are added to the population aged below 15 years, their proportions range from 50.4 per cent in Kassena-Nankana to 54.3 per cent in Bawku West.
The median age of the population is thus around 19 years. The population aged 15-64 years is about one half of the total population in each district. The population aged 65 years and above forms the smallest segment and is a reflection of the young age structure of the population of the districts. It is not more than 7 per cent in any district.
The age composition of the population aged 15-64 years shows that each district has a potentially large and youthful workforce (15-39 years), which if properly managed, can become a great economic asset for the region. The private informal sector, especially agriculture and small-scale industries, is the largest source of employment in the region.
This sector, therefore, needs to be modernized and injected with capital and technical expertise to enable it diversify its scope of activities to absorb the large numbers of potential job seekers. About two-thirds (64.4%) is young, between 15 and 39 years. In Bawku
East, the proportion is 68.2 per cent while it is 67.4 per cent in Bolgatanga and 64.2 per cent in Kassena-Nankana. The proportions in Builsa (63.5%) and Bawku West (63.8%) are about the same. It is only in Bongo that the proportion of the working force, aged less than 40 years, is lower than 60 per cent (59.4%).
Age structure by sex
The age structure for the sexes shows that at the regional level, there are more males than females at all ages 0-19 years, except for the age group 0-4 years. Between the ages of 20 and 69 years, however there are more females than males. For the elderly population (70 years and over) there are again more males than females.
As already indicated, the observed age-sex structure of the region follows, very closely, the pattern at the national level where there are more females than males in almost every age group upwards from age 20 years. The pattern changes for the region after age 70 years where there are more males than females.
The differences in the female/male population from age 20 to 69 are consistently high for the region. At age 70 and older, there is a preponderance of males than females. This is contrary to the observed national pattern of more females at the older ages. At the national level, females constitute 50.1 per cent of the population aged seventy years or more; in the region, the proportion is 47.2 percent.
The two adjacent regions show similar deviations from the national picture. Females form 46.6 per cent of the population aged 70 years and older in Northern and 48.1 per cent in Upper West. The fact that these regions are patriarchal and old age and male pre-eminence are greatly respected may probably encourage males to overstate their ages and females understate their ages.
At the district level, the age structures for the sexes follow the regional pattern. The age-sex structure is presented in the population pyramids in the Appendix. The other significant observation about the age-sex structure is that in the adult age group 20-44, the excess of females over males is higher in Bongo (35.8%), Bawku West (35.8%) and Bawku East (29.9%) than what is observed in the region (25.0%) as a whole. The excess of females in the 20-44 age group is lower than the regional value in three districts, Builsa (23.3%), Kassena- Nankana (22.1%) and Bolgatanga (15.2%).
Sex composition and sex ratio
The sex composition of the districts favours females. In each district, females form a little over one-half of the population. The proportion of females in the region is slightly higher than the national average. In the region, three districts, Bongo, Bawku West and Bawku East, have a slightly higher proportion of females than the regional average of 51.9 percent.
At the regional level age-sex ratios drop sharply from a high of about 110 males in the age group 15-19 years to below 90 males in the age group 20-24 years. The age-sex ratios remain low till age 40-44 years when the ratios pick up again. The age-sex ratios from age group 45-49 to the oldest age, pick-up gradually and in a consistent manner except for the dents at ages 50-54 and 60 - 64 years.
The observed pattern of the sex ratios reflects the effects of the sex ratio at birth, and the different patterns of migration and mortality for males and females. From age 20, ablebodied persons begin to migrate and some may return after age 64.
This is reflected in the fact that the sex ratio drops significantly between ages 15-19 and 20-24. For instance, at the national level, there is a sharp drop of 13.1 percentage points from age 15-19 (104.2%) to age 20-24 (91.1%). At the regional level, the drop is 27.9 percentage points (from 109.9% for age 15-19 to 82.0% for age 20-24).
The same pattern is observed in each district. The magnitude of the drop however, differs significantly between districts. The sharpest drop is in Bawku West (46.6 percentage points), followed by Builsa (34.7 percentage points), Bongo (32.6 percentage points) and Bawku East (32 percentage points). In Kassena-Nankana (17.6 percentage points) and Bolgatanga (20.6 percentage point), the drop is below the regional figure of 27.9 percentage points.
Age dependency ratios
The age dependency ratio is influenced by the birth rate. Populations with high birth rates usually have high age dependency ratios because of the large proportion of children age 0-14 in the population. With the dependency ratio of 99.2 (43.4% or the population under 15 and 6.4% aged 65 and older), it means that 100 economically active persons have responsibility for 99 dependants. The pattern for the districts is very interesting. Three districts have fairly low dependency ratios while the other three have extremely high ratios.
Bawku West (116.1), Bawku East (110.0) and Bongo (107.4) have much greater dependency burdens than the regional average while Builsa (94.3), Kassena-Nankana (87.8) and Bolgatanga (86.6) have lighter loads. These have important implications which must be taken into account for socio-economic planning.
Bawku West, with the highest age dependency ratio of 116.1 has 46.4 per cent of its population aged below 15 years and only 7.2 per cent aged 65 years and over. In Bawku East where the age dependency ratio is 110.0, the population under 15 years is 45.8 per cent and those 65 years and older is 6.9 percent. Bongo has an age dependency ratio of 107.4 and 44.8 per cent of its population below 15 years. The proportion aged 65 years or older is 6.9 percent.
In Builsa the age dependency ratio is 94.3, and the populations aged below 15 years and aged 65 years and above are 42.3 per cent and 6.3 per cent respectively. Kassena-Nankana has an age dependency ratio of 87.8 and a dependent population of 40.5 per cent below 15 years and 6.1 per cent 65 years and above. Bolgatanga has the lowest age dependency ratio of 86.6. The dependent population is made up of 40.9 per cent below 15 years and 5.5 per cent aged 65 years and above.
The observed ratios imply that there is roughly one dependent person to every economically active adult in each district. The pressure on the economically active population is greatest in Bawku West, Bawku East and Bongo. These have important implications which must be taken into account for socio-economic planning.
Birthplace and migratory pattern
Birthplace and migratory pattern are analysed by comparing locality of birth with locality of enumeration. While some of the persons born in locality of enumeration may have returned after years of migration, it is not possible to isolate them for analysis.
Comparing locality of birth with locality of enumeration is only a crude measure of migration because a person born in a place may have migrated out for a very long time to work but found him/herself back at the birthplace on census night for one reason or the other including retirement. It cannot be said that such a person has never migrated because he/she was counted at the locality of birth.
In all the districts, the proportion born in the locality of enumeration (I.e. non migrants) ranges from 86.7 per cent in Bolgatanga to 93.6 per cent in Bawku West. In other words, migrants in the region constitute between 6 and 13 per cent of Ghanaians by birth.
The volume of migration is generally low for both migration within the region and migration from outside the region. The regional capital district (Bolgatanga) received the highest proportion of Ghanaian migrants (37.2%).
Bawku East is the second most attractive destination, accounting for about a quarter (23.9%) of the region`s migrant population followed by Kassena-Nankana with 16.0 per cent of the migrants. Bongo (10.3%), Builsa (6.5%) and Bawku West (6.1%) are the least attractive destinations of migrants. Within districts (except Bongo), more than 90 per cent of migrants are born in Ghana.
It is significant to note that Builsa has hardly any migrants from outside Ghana, Economic and social activities of the district are not the type that attract foreign labour, being almost entirely rural. On the other hand, Kassena-Nankana, Bongo and Bolgatanga which are all quite close or share a common border with Burkina Faso, and Bawku East which shares borders with Togo and Burkina Faso have significant proportions of migrants from ECOWAS countries.
Data show that proximity of the two adjacent regions (Northern and Upper West) does not appear to be a significant pull factor for migration into the districts. These two regions account for only about a fourth (22.7%) of migrants from outside the region. About seven out of ten (69.4%) migrants are from the southern sector of the country, and almost half of these are from Ashanti (32.6%). Migrants from outside Ghana make up 7.9 per cent of migrants.
Migrants from the two adjacent regions (Northern and Upper West) are concentrated in three districts namely, Bolgatanga, Bawku East and Kassena-Nankana. Migrants from Ashanti are also attracted to the same three districts. About a third (29.5%) are in Bawku East, a further 29.4 per cent in Bolgatanga and 17 per cent in Kassena- Nankana. On the whole, migrants from all the other regions in Ghana are also concentrated in the same three districts of Bolgatanga, Bawku East and Kassena-Nankana.
The reasons for the preference of these districts are not far fetched. Bolgatanga contains the regional capital where most of the white-collar jobs, wholesale and retail trade activities are concentrated. Small-scale gold mining activities “galamsey” also draw migrants into the district. Bawku East has Bawku, an ancient trading town and the main entry point into Ghana from Northern Togo and Southern Burkina Faso, as its capital.
The district is also famous for onion production and for its market outlets. Kassena-Nankana has several institutions of higher learning, a world-renowned Health Research Centre and a flourishing irrigation project (Tono) that attract migrants with the requisite technical expertise.
Sex distribution of migrants
The overall distribution of migrants shows a higher proportion of females than males in the region and in each district. However, within region of birth categories, there is no consistent pattern of a higher percentage of males or of females.
Population distribution (rural-urban composition)
The region is the least urbanised in the country. Only 15.7 per cent of the population live in urban areas.
Only 2 districts in the region (Bolgatanga and Bawku East) have levels of urbanization above the regional level; one district has a level close to that of the region (Kassena-Nankana), and (Builsa and Bongo) are entirely rural. There are only seven urban centres in the region. Out of the region`s total urban population, the largest proportion of 43.8 per cent is in Bawku East, followed by 34.1 per cent in Bolgatanga, 16.5 per cent in Kassena-Nankana and 5.6 per cent in Bawku West.
Fertility and child survival
Children ever born:
The average number of children born to women at the end of the reproductive period (40-49 years) is an and indication of cumulative fertility of the woman is called completed family size. If fertility remained unchanged for the earlier 30 years or more, completed family size would be equal to total fertility rate. Completed family size however is not an indicator of current fertility because the births to these women occurred in the past at varying times in a period extending about 25 years.
The age and sex distribution of a population is the result of the combined effect of fertility, mortality and migration. The age distribution however, is not much affected by changes in mortality, because mortality reduction, in general, does not relate to one or more specific age groups but affects the whole population. Thus, it is fertility that is the overriding factor in determining an age distribution. The level and pattern of fertility in the past can be inferred from the census age distribution with reasonable accuracy.
Cultural and social structures
Ghanaians by birth or parenthood constitute 92.5 per cent of the population of the region. Naturalized Ghanaians constitute a further 5.3 per cent and the rest are non-Ghanaians. There are thus fewer non-Ghanaians (2.1%) than naturalized Ghanaians, constituted of ECOWAS national (1%), other Africa (0.7%) and non-Africa (0.4%).
Ethnicity and languages
The major ethnic groups in Upper East fall under the broad categories of Mole Dagbon (74.5%), Grusi (8.5%), Mande-Busanga (6.2%) and Gurma (3.2%). Among the Mole Dagbon, the major sub-groupings are the Namnam (30.5%), Kusasi (22.6%), Nankani- Gurense (9.2%) and Builsa (7.6%).
The Kassena (6.5%) of the Grusi, Busanga (5.9%) of the Mande-Busanga and Bimoba (2.8%) of the Gurma are the other significant ethnic subgroups. The major languages of the region are Gurene (Frafra), Kasina, Nankani, Buile, Kusal, Mampruli and Bisa.
In addition to the 7 major groups, there are several minor ethnic groups in the region. For example, the Bimoba comprise 2.8 per cent of the population in the region but have no concentration in any one district.
The Busanga who form 5.9 per cent in the region have major concentrations in only Bawku West (7.8%) and Bawku East (15.4%). The Kusasi make up about one in five of the region`s population whereas the Mamprusis make up less than two percent. However, the Mamprusis are highly concentrated in adjacent West Mamprusi and East Mamprusi of Northern Region.
Other minority groups are the Dargarte (Dagaba) who make up less than one per cent (0.9%) of the region`s population. Their concentration is above the regional percentage share in only two districts, (Builsa, 3.9% and Bolgatanga, 1.7%). It is noted that the Dagarte are indigenes from the Upper West who migrated to settle in this area long before the current regions were created.
The Dagombas make up less than one per cent (0.8%) of the region`s population with the highest concentration of 1.7 per cent in the Bolgatanga district. The Vagala with 1.1 per cent of the region`s population has concentration above the regional value in only Bawku West (4.7%) and Bawku East (2.1%).
In all, minority ethnic groups which are not from the southern sector of the country comprise about 10 per cent of the population of the region (10.3%). The presence of the minority ethnic groups in the region has socio-culture implications that have a bearing on ethnic instability in the region, especially in Bawku West and Bawku East. The regional picture, however, changes depending on the base district of the ethnic groups.
For instance the Builsa who constitute 7.6 per cent of the region`s population, make up 84.1 per cent of the population of the district.
Three main religious grouping are found in the Upper East Region, namely: Christianity, Islam and the Traditional. Traditional religion is the most common form of worship in the region (46.4%), followed by Christianity (28.3%) and Islam (22.6%).
About two per cent (1.9%) profess no religious affiliation, and less than one per cent (0.8 percent) belong to other religious groupings. Catholics form the majority of Christians (57.7%) followed by Pentecostal/Charismatic groups (21.7%) and Protestants (12.3%).
For the region as a whole, the proportion of females professing the Christian faith (54.3%) is larger than for males. Indeed, both numbers and proportions for all the Christian denominations and the other religions are larger for females than for males. The Upper East is the only region in which adherents of traditional religion are close to one-half of the population.
In the country as a whole, the proportion is 8.5 per cent but in the two adjacent regions, Northern (21.3%) and Upper West (29.3%), the proportions are quite significant. The three northern regions have similar traditional, social and religious practices including ancestor worship and the almost total acceptance of the authority of the clan head.
The duration of exposure to Christianity may not be a possible explanation for the continued adherence to traditional religion. Even in Kassena-Nankana where the White Fathers opened their first mission station at Navrongo in 1906, 55.4 per cent are traditionalists.
Information on marital status is applicable to persons 12 years or older. The eligibility for this question is “based on the average age of menarche and also on the practice in some parts of the country where girls as young as 12 years old could be given in marriage” (Ghana Statistical Service, March 2002). Since 92.3 per cent of the population aged 12-14 are never married, however, the data on marital status are presented only for the population 15 years or older.
The data show that in the region as a whole, about three out of every four (75.4%) have been married before. This is made up of 66.6 per cent of males and 82.8 per cent of females.
The proportion widowed is much higher for females (13%) compared to males (3%), a threefold increase. The reasons for this substantial imbalance may be that one woman dying results in only one male widowed in a monogamous marriage or no widow at all if the man is polygamous. On the other hand, one man dying will result in more than one widowed female in a polygamous marriage. “Polygamy is widely practised in the region (36%).
Furthermore, the relatively lower proportion of widowed men as compared to women reflects the higher level of mortality among men and also suggests that men are more likely than women to remarry upon the death of a spouse” (Ghana Statistical Service, October 1999). Men also marry relatively younger women and therefore tend to die early, leaving much younger widows who for traditional or cultural reasons may never remarry or much later, if at all.
The region show that only 21.2 per cent of the population (15 years and older) are literate in either English only (12.9%), both English and Ghanaian language (6.6%) or Ghanaian language only (1.7%). The regional level of illiteracy (78.1%) is much higher than the national average of 45.9 per cent (Figure 1.3).
Not literate English Ghanaian language Engilsh & Ghanaian Others The majority of the 54.1 per cent of Ghana`s adult population, who are literate in at least one known and written language, have that ability in both English and a Ghanaian language. This observation is true for both males and females. In the Upper East, however, 58.9 per cent of the literate (for both sexes) are literate in English only.
Instruction in Ghanaian schools is in both English and Ghanaian languages. Prior to the new educational reform programme, instruction at the primary school level was largely in Ghanaian languages. In the new system, instructions start in English. The proportion literate in a Ghanaian language (i.e. literate in a Ghanaian language only or literate in English and a Ghanaian language) however is only 8.3 percent.
A partial explanation may be that several of the ethnic languages are only spoken and not written. This implies that there is a lot more to do to push the reading and writing of Ghanaian languages in the school system. Since much of literature and mass communication is in English, the effective literacy level is only 19.4 percent. The fact that a little above three in four adults are not literate is unfortunate and must be a challenge to reduce the level.
The overall levels of educational attainment are much lower in the region, compared with the country as whole. For instance the proportion of the population aged three years and over that have no schooling or attended only pre-school is 75.7 per cent in the region compared to 47.7 per cent in the country as a whole. When educational attainment is restricted to the population aged 6 years and over, the proportion in the region which has never attended school is 71.8 percent.
This proportion is higher for females (76.4%) than for males (66.8%). For the population aged 6 years and over who have attended school before, almost one in two (48.1%) attained primary level. About one in five (20.8%) attained middle/JSS, and about one in eight (12.5%) attained secondary/senior secondary. Less than 5 per cent attained vocational/technical (4.2%) and post-secondary (4.7%). The proportion of males who have attended school before is consistently higher than for females at all levels.
The proportion of the region`s educated population that have primary or middle/JSS as the highest level of education they attained (68.9%) is rather large, and poses a great challenge for the full implementation of the fCUBE and other education improvement programmes. Current school enrolment in Primary 1, however, is generally comparable with the national situation for males and also for females; rather, substantial differences between the national and regional picture persist at the JSS level.
There are 144,382 households in Upper East occupying 88,401 houses. With a population of 920,089, this results in an average household size of 6.4 persons and an average of 1.6 households per house. The average household size for the region is slightly lower than that of the adjacent regions, Northern (7.4) and Upper West (7.2).
What is common to these three northern regions however is that they have an average household size larger than the national average of 5.1 persons per household.
Builsa has the smallest average household size of 4.9 persons while Bawku East has the largest of 8.2 persons, followed by Bawku West with 6.9 persons. The remaining three districts have an average size of 5.7, much smaller than the regional average of 6.3 persons.
Size of households
For the purpose of analysis, the households are classified into five categories: single (1 person), small (2 persons), medium (3-5 persons) large (6-8 persons) and very large (9 persons or more).
Bawku East has the highest proportion of very large households (40.7%), followed by Bawku West (28.6%); Builsa has the lowest proportion (7.8%) of very large households. In all districts, except Bawku East, the largest proportions of households (31-47%) are of medium size. In each district, about 30 per cent of the households are large (6-8 persons).
Small households of two persons range from 4.1 per cent in Bawku East to 9.9 per cent in Builsa. Single person households form about 6 per cent in Builsa, Kassena-Nankana and Bolgatanga, and less than 5 per cent in the Bawku East (3%), Bawku West (4.2%) and Bongo (4.8%).
Heads of households constitute 14.8 per cent of the membership of households in the region. Temporary heads make up an additional 0.9 per cent of household members. At the district level, the proportion of the population who are heads of households ranges from 11.4 per cent in Bawku East to 19.2 per cent in Builsa, while the proportion of temporary heads ranges from 0.8 per cent in Bawku West and Bawku East to 1.4 per cent in Builsa.
Spouses constitute 12.2 per cent of household members, slightly less than the proportion of heads of household. This is an indication of a considerable proportion of single person or single parent households. Children of the heads of households constitute the highest proportion of household members in each district. In the region as a whole, children of head of household constitute 42 per cent of household members. The highest proportion of 44.5 per cent is in Bawku West, while the lowest (33.5%) is in Bongo.
Other relatives are the second largest group of household members other than heads of households in the region and in each district; another significant group is grandchildren. The fact that children, grandchildren and other relatives of the head constitute more than 60 per cent of household members supports the view that the traditional external family household composition has not changed much. It also reflects the extent of fostering in the living arrangements of households (Ghana Statistical service, 2002).
The proportion of household members who are heads of households is 14.8 per cent in the region compared to 18.3 per cent for the country. The proportion of household members who are heads of households ranges from 11.4 per cent in Bawku East to 19.2 per cent in Builsa. Temporary headship is not very widespread in the region. It ranges between 4.8 per cent in Kassena-Nankana and 7.2 per cent in Bongo.
While substantive heads of households are predominantly male, the reverse is the case with temporary heads. In the country as a whole, 79.3 per cent of temporary heads are females while 68.7 per cent of usual heads are males. This picture is reflected at the regional and district levels, though at lower levels.
For the region as a whole, 77.8 per cent of usual household heads are males and this proportion ranges from 88.7 per cent in Bawku East to 64.3 per cent in Bongo. On the other hand, the proportion of female temporary heads is highest in Builsa (94.2%) and lowest in Bongo (59.4%).
Females head only about one-fifth (22.2%) of households in the region compared to the rate of about one-third (31.3%) for the country. But in a region where, traditionally, males are almost always the heads of household, this could be a welcome change. It is worth noting that Bongo has both the highest proportion of female household heads (35.7%) and lowest female temporary household heads (59.4%), far exceeding both regional and national levels.
Where a female is identified as head of household, it is likely that she may be a single person, a single parent or a widow. This is evidenced in the fact that only 35 per cent of spouses of heads of households are male (it ranges from 1.9% in Builsa to 11.1% in Bongo).
Household heads in the region and in all the districts are mostly in the late adult ages. The median age of household heads is below 50 years with the proportion of headship increasing with age up to 50 years. There is a significant drop in the 50-59 age group and continues to decrease with age.
The picture is the same for all districts and for both sexes. This declining proportion of household headship after age 50 years would tend to contradict the popular notion that the culture being patriarchal, several generations in a compound look up to the patriarch as head of the residents. It could also reflect a better understanding of the concept of household and therefore a better identification of households within the residential structures.
only 3.8 per cent of those aged 12-14 were reported as ever married. Ninety two per cent of the males and the same proportion of the females aged 12-14 are never married. This is virtually the same as for the region where 92.3 per cent of persons aged 12-14 years are never married. The proportion of males (93.3%) and that of females (92.2%) never married is about the same. It is only in Bongo where the corresponding figure is 79.6 per cent of those aged 12-14 years.
The traditional practice of early and almost universal marriage, especially for women is reflected in the fact that in the region and in each district, about three out of every four persons aged 15 years or older have been married before.
More females than males have been married before (82.8 % females compared to 66.6 % males). The lower proportion of males who have ever married also reflects the fact that men are more likely than women to postpone marriage since traditional practices expect the man to initiate the marriage by paying the bride price and the responsibility for family maintenance.
Both of these require careful and thorough preparation. The region`s total ever married is higher than what is observed for the country as a whole where only two out of every three (68.1%) have ever married. The proportions of males (61%) and females (74.9%) ever married are also lower in the country compared to the region.
Bawku West has the highest proportion of ever-married persons (81.5%) followed by Bongo (79.5%), with the lowest (71.9%) in Bolgatanga. In each district, the proportion of evermarried females is higher than that for males.
The eligible population (aged 15 years or older) who are never married ranges from 18.5 per cent in Bawku West to 28.1 per cent in Bolgatanga, the regional capital. The proportion of eligible males who are never married ranges from 25.5 per cent in Bongo to as highas 36.0 per cent in Bolgatanga. The proportion of eligible females who are never married ranges from 21 per cent in Bolgatanga to 13.7 per cent in Builsa.
A high proportion of the population in the districts aged 15 years or older had married. About 62 per cent of the population in the region are currently married, consisting of 58.5 per cent male and 64.5 per cent females. The proportion currently married is higher in the region than in the country as a whole where only 49.9 per cent are currently married. The proportion males (58.5%) and females (64.5%) currently married are also higher than the national average of 48.1 per cent males and 51.6 per cent females.
In the districts, the highest proportion of currently married is 67.5 per cent in Bawku West and the lowest is 57 per cent Bongo. Among the male population, the proportion ranges from 55.7 per cent in Kassena-Nankana to 64 per cent in Bawku West, while for the female population, the proportion currently married ranges from 57.2 per cent in Bongo to 70 per cent in Bawku West.
Consensual union or “living together” is not a common practice in the region. Less than two per cent are reported as being in such a union. This is far lower than the national figure of 6.7 percent.
No longer married
In the region as a whole, separation, just like “living together” is not a common practice. Less than two per cent of the population aged 15 years or older are reported as separated (1.6 %). Slightly more females (1.7%) than males (1.4%) are reported as separated. The observed proportion of the population separated in the region is about the same as the total country figure of 1.8 percent.
In the districts, spouses who are separated range from one per cent in Bawku East to 3.4 per cent in Bongo. The proportion of females reported as separated is slightly higher than that of males in each district, except Bongo.
Only 2.2 per cent of the population aged 15 years or older is reported to be divorced in the region, ranging from 1.6 per cent in Bolgatanga and Bawku East to 4.8 per cent in Bongo.
In the light of the fact that the region has the highest proportion of ever-married population in the country, the rather low levels of separation and divorce in the region are an indication of stable relationships.
Less than a tenth of the population of the region (8.5%) are widowed, consisting of 3 per cent males and 13 per cent females. These proportions are about twice those of the country: 5 per cent (2.1% males and 7.8% females). At the district level, the widowed proportion ranges from 6.8 per cent in Bawku East to 10.9 per cent in Bongo.
The substantial imbalance between the proportion of males and females widowed may be explained by the higher survival rates of women in the country, and by the practice of polygamy. In a polygamous family, one man`s death results in more than one woman becoming a widow, whereas one wife`s death in the same polygamous family does not result in a man reporting himself as widowed.
Another likely explanation of the substantial imbalance is that men are more likely than women to remarry after the death of a spouse. Since older men tend to marry younger women, and women survive longer than men on average, husbands are more likely to die earlier leaving more widowed women.
There is the need for programmes that will be directed to all aspects of reinforcing the support system to take care of the need of widows. In this regard, NGOs working in the interest of widows in the three northern regions should be supported.
The Regional Minister
Upper East Regional Coordinating Council
P. O. Box 50, Bolgatanga
Upper East Region
W / Africa
Tel: (+233 72) - 22040/22414
Fax: (+233 72) - 22040
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