Profile- Northern Region

The recent creation of six new regions led to the creation of two new regions out of the old Northern Region. The current Northern Region is made up of 16 Districts out of the former 29 districts. Tamale serves as the regional capital of the region and constitutes about fourteen (14%) of the regional population.

Northern Region is much drier than southern areas of Ghana, due to its proximity to the Sahel, and the Sahara. It is one of the regions in the northern belt of Ghana with the shortest period of rains.  The rains usually start from May to September each year and sometimes extend up to early November. The average annual rainfall is between 750 and 1050 mm (30 to 40 inches). The dry Harmattan wind from the Sahara Desert blows frequently between December and the beginning of February. The temperatures can vary between 14 °C (59 °F) at night and 40 °C (104 °F) during the day.

The vegetation consists predominantly of grassland  and savanna vegetation with clusters of drought-resistant trees such as baobabs or acacias, shea trees and neem trees.

The Region has a total land area of about 25,459 sq. km. It is located between latitude 8 30″ and 10 30″ N and lies within in the savannah belt of Ghana.  It has Togo and to the East as its international neighbor. Further south, the region shares boundaries with Savannah Region, and to the north, it shares borders with North East Region. It also shares boundaries with Oti region to the South-East. It is divided into sixteen (16) political/administrative districts headed by the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives. The districts are further subdivided into 84 health sub-districts and 430 electoral areas.  

Poverty is high and widespread and many cannot afford the cost of basic health services on their own. Agriculture remains the predominant sector, with over 90% of the productive age group being peasant farmers.  Mechanized agriculture is possible on this terrain although limited in practice because of the high cost of inputs. However, the peasant farmer produces the bulk of the cereals, tubers and groundnuts in the region.  Sheanut is the most important cash crop in the region.

The population is characteristically distributed in small settlements with populations of 200 – 500 people. There are over 2,000 settlements in the Region, out of which 54.4% have population less than 200 people. The distances between settlements are far apart. This peculiar pattern of distribution of population in the region has adverse implication for service delivery, as sub-district health teams (SDHTs) going on out-reach services have to travel long distances only to reach a small proportion of their target