West Gonja District is located in the Northern Region of Ghana. It lies on longitude 10 51 and 20 581 West and Latitude 80 321 and 100 21 North. It shares boundaries in the south in the south with Central Gonja District, Bole and Sawla-Tuna-Kalba District in the West, Wa East District in the North West, West Mamprusi in the North, Tolon Kumbungu District in the East.
The District has total land area of 8,352sq.Km. This represents about 12% of the total land area of the region. The Mole National Park and Kenikeni Forest Reserves occupy 3800sq Km) 30% of the land area of the District.
The topography is generally undulating with altitude of between 150-200meters above sea level. The only high land is the Damongo Escarpment, located north of the District capital. There are a few outcrops of weathered rocks around Daboya.
The Mole River from the northern boundary joins the White Volta East of Damongo and this joins the Black Volta around Tuluwe in the Central Gonja District. The White Volta River also passes through the Eastern boundary of the district.
Geology and Soil:
The District is situated in an old geological area. The rocks are mainly of Voltaian formation with isolated Cambrian rocks, which contain valuable minerals such as gold. There are mudstones and sandstones in the Alluvial Damongo formations. The extreme western part of Damongo is composed of granitic material of low fertility. Rich alluvial sandy deposits occur around Damongo and the Kenikeni Forest Reserves.
The soils around Mankarigu, Kotito and Lingbinsi are said to be fertile and suitable for cereals, legumes, and root crops, including livestock production. Underground water potentials are limited due to the Voltaian formation.
Temperatures are generally high with the maximum occurring in the dry season, between March/April and are lowest between December/January. The mean monthly temperature is 27oc. The dry season is characterized by the Harmattan wind, which is dry, dusty and cold in the morning and very hot at noon. Evapotranspiration is very high causing soil moisture deficiency. Humidity is very low causing dry skin and cracked lips to human being.
Rainfall is unimodal with the average annual precipitation being 1144mm. The rainfall pattern is erratic, beginning in late April to late October. The peak of the rainfall is in June/July with prolonged dry spell in August. The rains are stormy and torrential up to 300mm per hour. Erosion and floods are common place due to the torrential nature of the rains.
Rainfall Data for the district from 2005-2010
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The natural vegetation is Guinea Savanna. The Vegetative cover of the district is dictated by the soil types and human activities, such as shifting cultivation, slash and burn method of land preparation. The major tree pieces are sheanut, dawadawa, baobab, acacia, neem and little ebony. The trees are scattered except in most valleys where isolated woodland or forest are found. Most trees are deciduous shedding their leaves during the dry season in order to conserve water.
Grass grows in tussocks and may reach 2.7m during the rainy season. This indicates that the area is suitable for crops such as millet, sorghum, maize and groundnuts. The original vegetation in major settlements such as Damongo, Busunu, Mankarigu and Daboya has been destroyed by human activities.
Environmental Situation (Forest And Game Reserves):
The district has two reserves and these are the Mole National Park and Kenikeni Forest Reserve both having a rich array of flora and fauna. The Mole Park which is located about 30km west of Damongo, is the largest in the country and one of the best managed game and wildlife parks not only in Ghana but Africa, south of the Sahara desert. The park covers an estimated area of about 5500 hectares and is a major tourist attraction in the North. In the year 2004 10,427 people (both Ghanaians and foreigners) visited the park.
Other minor forest Reserves are: Damongo scarp located north of Damongo (39.36 km2); Nyangbong located south East of Damongo (4.66km2); Bombi after the Damongo Hospital towards Kotito No. 1 (1.47 km2); Damongo Town Plantation after the Agric Settlement, east of Damongo (0.43km3).
The Mole National Pack attracts both foreign tourists. It also offers employment to some people in the district. However some communities had to relocate to make way for the creation of the park the district assembly does not benefit directly for revenue collected from the park.
The park also contains a variety of flora and fauna and also some trees of medicinal value. However since the park is a restricted area people are not allowed to go in for these medicinal plants. The Mole National Park and Kenikeni forest reserve occupy great tracks of farm lands thus denying farmers their basic source of livelihood, which is farming.
This has led to poaching in some cases Alternative sources of livelihood will have to be made for people living in the fringe communities.
Water supply: 60% of the communities have portable water coverage. The district has drilled 195 boreholes, 3 hand drill well fitted with pump,4 small town water system,12 mechanized boreholes, 10 dams and 10 dug outs.
Population Size and Density:
According to the 2000 population and Housing Census the district population is 76,702 which give a density of 8.3 persons per sq. Km. The population density is below the regional density of 25.9 persons per sq Km. The district population growth rate of 3.1% is higher than the national (2.7%) and the regional (2.8%0 respectively.