The Northern Region has a total land area of about 70,384 sq. km which
is 29% of the land area of Ghana. It is located between latitude 8 30"
and 10 30" N and lies completely in the savannah belt. It has Togo and
La Cote D'Ivoire to the East and West respectively, as its international
neighbours. Further south, the region shares boundaries with Brong
Ahafo and the Volta Regions, and to the north it shares borders with the
two Upper Regions.
The 2000 census projection report gives the regional population as
1,820,000 at growth rate of 2.9% giving a population of 2,090,399 in
2005. It is divided into eighteen political/administrative districts
headed by the District Chief Executives. The districts are further
subdivided into seventy five health sub-districts. Most of these
correspond with the local council zones.
This is tropical with temperatures ranging from a low of 14 degrees
Celsius night temperature during the hamattan season to as high as 38
degrees Celsius during the hot dry season. The rains begin lightly in
April and rise steadily to peak in August-September and gradually
decline by the end of October. The dry hamattan winds engulf the whole
region between December and February. In recent years the rains have
been starting late, in May and peaking later in September-October.
The 2000 census report puts the population of the region at 1,820,806.
At a growth rate of 2.9 per annum the estimated population for 2005 is
This population is characteristically distributed in small settlements
with populations of 200 - 500 people. There are over 5,000 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 SDHTs going on out-reach travel long distances only
to reach a small proportion of their target population.
A reasonable proportion of the population is in “overseas” areas in
seven of the eighteen districts namely, East Gonja, West Gonja, West
Mamprusi, Nanumba South, Gushegu, Karaga and Tolon/Kumbungu districts.
These populations can only be assessed from neighboring
regions/districts or only during the dry season In the West Gonja and
East Gonja districts, several villages are completely surrounded by the
Poverty is high and widespread and many cannot afford the cost of basic
health services 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.
Cotton Ginnery is perhaps the only industrial sector with a high out-put
level. Notwithstanding the low activity in this sector the
establishment of the Intermediate Technology Transfer Unit has been a
booster to entrepreneurs who depend on it for the manufacture of spares,
tools etc. for their light industries. Leather tanning is also done on a
large scale. A number of mining activities have sprung up in some
districts, notably Bole but this is still on a low scale.
The state of the roads in the Region is generally bad. The only stretch
roads that is tarred are the Buipe through Tamale to Bolgatanga stretch,
a distance of about 270 Km and Tamale to Yendi stretch. Most roads are
not motorable in the rainy season thus hampering outreach and other
health programs. Bicycles and motorbikes are therefore more effective
for out-reach activities in the Region.
There has been a significant improvement in telecommunications over the
past three years; most of the district capitals can now be reached by
telephone: eight out of the eighteen can be reached directly by phone.
One out of the eighteen have not yet been connected to the national
The region is among those with the lowest school enrolment rate, highest
dropout rate and highest illiteracy rates in the country.