The Upper West Region once formed part of the then Upper Region of Ghana. It was carved out in 1983 as the 10th region, in furtherance of Ghana’s decentralization programme.
The Upper West Region is situated in the north-western part of Ghana. It lies between longitude 1 25’’ W and 2 45’’ and latitudes 9 30’’ N and 11 N. It is bordered to the south by the Northern region, to the north and West by Burkina Faso, to the east by the Upper East region. It covers a geographical area of 18.476 sq. km, which constitutes 12.7 percent of the total land area of Ghana. The population density ranges from 13 per square kilometre in the Sissala districts to 97 per square kilometre in the Lawra district, with a regional average of 33 per square kilometre.
There is strong socio-cultural relationship among the border communities and an extensive inter-boundary mobility of people. This has health implications in terms of disease epidemiology, health service utilisation and management.
The rocks in this Region are predominantly Precambrian granites and the Birimian formation. These contain clay, iron ore and gold deposits. In this connection, it is pertinent to mention here that the Region also has its share of the menace of illegal miners known as ‘Galamsey’ operators in the country. The water table for the Region is between 40 and 60 metres. The success rate for drilling boreholes is about 80%.
The decentralization structure in the Region is as follows. At the apex of the Political and Administrative structure is the Regional Coordinating Council whose role is to co-ordinate, harmonize, monitor and evaluate the activities of District Assemblies as well as Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the Region. Below the Regional Co-ordinating Council is one Municipal Assembly in Wa and 7 District Assemblies. These are Jirapa/Lambussie, Lawra, Nadowli, Sissala East, Sissala West, Wa East and Wa West. There are also 51 /Town/Area Councils and 618 unit committees.
There are ten constituencies. All the levels of Political and Administrative structures in the decentralization process play the roles that are expected of them. But the system is not fully operational because some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) still owe allegiance to their mother Departments and ministries in Accra. Some districts are not able to attract the requisite qualified personnel to operate effectively in view of the presence of little or no social amenities. Consequently, a lot of stress exist working at the district level. As a result , most District Water and Sanitation Teams (DWSTs) established cannot devote full time to their duties in the Water and Sanitation (WATSAN) sector, in view of their allegiance to their mother departments as well as the other numerous jobs they have to perform as staff of the District Assemblies.
Population Size And Density
The 2000 National Population census puts the Region’s figure at 576,583 people. This is made up of 276,445 males and 300,138 (2000 Population Census) females. The National Population figure when projected to 2006 using the Regional growth rate of 1.7% gives a population of 637,951.
Average population density is 33 persons per square kilometre. This is lower than the National average of 77 persons per square kilometre. There is, however, a marked concentration along the Western corridor where the population density is above 97 persons per square kilometre especially in the Lawra, Jirapa and Nadowli areas. The Sissala East and Sissala West Districts have the lowest density of about 11 persons per square kilometres.
There are 929 settlements in the Region. The distribution of settlements in the Region is dispersed with the greater number living in rural areas. This poses a big challenge when it comes to the provision of basic services to the people, including potable water.
In terms of hierarchy, Wa, the regional capital and the biggest settlement in the region was in 2006 elevated to a Municipality. Its population, estimated to be 66,644 people, has shot up dramatically since the last census. It has a heavy concentration of the basic services and infrastructure. Other major settlements with their corresponding populations are Tumu (8.859), Jirapa (8,060) Hamile (5,245), Nandom (6,526) and Lawra (5,163). Source: 2000 Population Census.