Profile – Upper West Region

The Upper West Region is situated in the north-western part of Ghana. it lies between longitude 1o 25’’ W and 2o 45’’ and latitudes 9o 30’’ N and 11oN. It is bordered to the south by the Northern Region, to the north and West by Burkina Faso and to the east by the Upper East region.  With an area of 18,476 km2, the region’s population density stands at 40 persons per square kilometre.

The Sissala East, Wa East and parts of the Nadowli-Kaleo districts (in the eastern parts of the region) have nucleated communities that are far apart, with a resultant population density of 13 persons per square kilometre. This implies that health staff have to travel over long distances in order to deliver health services including immunization to the people. 

There is an increasing phenomenon of nomadic Fulani herdsmen moving into the eastern part of the region from Burkina Faso and Niger. The health services have faced difficulties in determining the real population as well as tracking these nomads to provide both routine services and immunization during National Immunization Days (NIDs) against Polio and Supplementary Immunization Activities (SIAs) against Measles.

The landscape is generally flat and below 300m above sea level with a central plateau ranging between 1,000 and 1,150 ft. The low-lying nature of the region opens up several communities to flooding during the rainy season. The Black Volta forms the western border of the region with Burkina Faso whilst the Kulpawn and Sissili which are tributaries of the White Volta also run through the eastern part of the region.

The climate is tropical with an average minimum temperature of 22.6oC and maximum of 40.0oC. There is one rainy season from May- October with an intensity of 100-115 cm/annum with humidity ranging between 70% – 90% but falling to 20% in the dry season. During this time from November to March, the cold dry and dusty wind, the harmattan, blows from the Northeast across the region.  It is this period from November to March that the region is most prone to outbreaks of cerebrospinal meningitis.

The predominant activity is farming, the long dry season means that many people are idle for so many months each year resulting in a lot of seasonal migration to the southern parts of the country especially Brong-Ahafo, Ashanti and Eastern regions.  This form of migration has implications for public health in the region. The emergence of illegal mining activities currently in Nadowli, Wa East, and Sissala East districts poses an increasing risk of respiratory related health problems as well as sexually transmitted diseases.

The region has the least kilometers of tarred roads in Ghana.  Only three of the district capitals are linked to each other and to the regional capital courtesy parts of the Bamboi-Hamile trunk road. The bad nature of most of the roads during the rainy season also makes movement to some of the communities in the eastern part of the region very difficult. Telephone and fax facilities exist in all the districts. Mobile phone coverage to the entire region is about 90% but the eastern parts of the region have poor phone coverage. There is an airstrip in the regional capital but this is rarely used, as there are no commercial flights.  The predominant means of transport is by road using Lorries, buses, motorcycles, tricycles or bicycles and rarely donkey carts.

The region has a total of eleven (11) administrative districts, comprising Daffiama Bussie Issa (DBI), Jirapa, Lambussie- Karni, Lawra, Nadowli –Kaleo, Nandom, Sissala East, Sissala West, Wa East, Wa Municipal and Wa West. The latest districts added in 2012 are (DBI) and Nandom districts.

The projected population for 2020 based on the 2010 Population and Housing Census growth rate of 1.9% was 869,479.