Wa West
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    Physical and Natural Environment

Location and size.

The Wa West District is one of the nine districts that make up the Upper West Region. It was created in 2004 by legislative instrument 175 with Wechiau as the District capital. The District is located in the Western part of the Upper West Region, approximately between longitudes 40ºN and 45ºN and Latitudes 9ºW and 32ºW. The district has two paramountcies namely Wechiau and Dorimon .It comprises of five Area Councils, namely Dorimon, Ga, Gurungu, Vieri, and Wechiau with approximately 208 communities. It shares borders to the south with Northern Region, North-West by Nadowli District, East by Wa Municipal and to the West by The Republic of Burkina Faso. (Appendix A is the District sketch Map).

Topography and Drainage

The district lies in the Savanna high plains, which is generally undulating with an average height of between 180m and 300m above sea level. A distinct uni-modal rainfall pattern is experienced in the district. The rolling nature of the landscape is good for agriculture and other physical developments. The main drainage system is the Black Volta River and its tributaries. Most of the tributary/ streams are seasonal and thus disrupting road transport during the rainy season along some major roads leading to the District capital.

Geology and Soil

The district is underlain predominantly by Precambrian, Granite and Metamorphic rocks that have seen less weathering due to low rainfall, high evapo-transpiration and less vegetation. Nevertheless, water harvesting from boreholes has been successful because the rocks have well-developed fracture systems. There are two main soil types, the most extensive being the ground water lateritic soil. There is also the Savanna orchrosols found along the Black Volta. These soil types occupy a toposquence, and vary from shallow and gravelly soils on undulating terrains to deep, grayish brown alluvial clay bottomlands.

Climate

The Wa West District enjoys two marked seasons. The rainy season begins in May and ends in September and the dry season also begins in October and ends in April. The mean annual rainfall figures vary between 840mm and 1400mm. A very important feature of rainfall in the district is that it is erratic in nature i.e it is torrential and poorly distributed.

The soil moisture is adequate for the cultivation of crops such as guinea corn, millet, maize, yam, groundnuts, soyabeans and cowpea. The unreliable nature of rainfall in the district affects plant growth negatively resulting in poor harvest from year to year. Temperatures are high in most part of the year, ranging between 22.5ºC to 45ºC, low between December and January, and high between March and April. Average monthly maximum temperature is 33ºC whereas the daily highest is 35ºC.

Vegetation

The vegetation of the Wa West District is of the Guinea Savanna grassland. The predominant trees in the district are Shea (Vitellaria paradoxa), dawadawa (Parkia biglobosa), Kapok (Ceiba pentandra), Baobab (Adansonia dipitata), mahogany (Khaya snegalensis), cashew (Anacardium occidentale), mangoes (Mangifera indica), Akee apple (Blighia sapida), Guava (Psidium guajava),Teak(Tectona grandis), Neem (Azadirachta indica). The last two, namely cashew and mango are exotic species, which also thrive well in the district. Large tracts of the natural vegetation are disappearing, largely due to human activities in the form of cultivation of new farms, overgrazing, bushfires and charcoal production. There are also gallery forests along the Black Volta River and its tributaries. Climbers and shrubs are common plant types found in the guinea Savanna.

Environmental Situation

Large tracts of the natural tree vegetation are disappearing in the District due largely to human activities in the form of cultivation, over-grazing, bush fires and charcoal burning. This situation must be checked to avoid environmental degradation and the destruction of important soil micro-organisms. Traditional farming practices such as slash and burn, shifting cultivation, and also road construction, sand and gravel winning degrade the land in the district. Farming along water courses has led to the silting of many streams and other water bodies. There is therefore the need to desilt these water bodies in order to make water available for dry season farming and other domestic purposes. The activities of Fulani herdsmen on the environment cannot be overemphasized. They take advantage of the ECOWAS Protocol and bring in herds of alien cattle into the district. Apart from the overgrazing done by their cattle, they also cut down economic trees such as Shea trees to feed their cattle. Worse still, they allow their cattle to graze on farms. This has often resulted in reduction of farm yields and income levels of farmers and women in the district who are the major pickers of the sheanuts. To forestall environmental degradation, there is the need to establish tree plantation such as cashew, mango, sheanuts and also curb the activities of the alien Fulani herdsmen.

The built environment of the district consists of private residential housing units, as well as educational, health and other administrative institutions. The dams also constitute the building environment. There is complete absence of development control in the district, especially the district capital Wechiau. This has resulted in misuse as well as under use of the land. Poor sanitation and personal hygiene practices such as indiscriminate defecation are major factors that impact negatively on the environment. Sensitization of the people to use the few sanitation facilities and the enforcement of environmental bye laws need to be reinforced along side with the provision of household latrines and other sanitation facilities.

Religion, ethnicity and major economic activities

With respect to religious composition, Christians, Traditional African Religion and Muslims constitute the population. Majority of the people are subsistence farmers whilst a few along the banks of the Black Volta other water bodies engage in fishing. Most of the women engage in pito brewing, petty trading and shea butter extraction. The most predominant tribe in the District is the Brefor with dialectical variations, followed by Waala and Dagaabas. There are other minor tribes such as the Hausa, Asante’s, etc. They co-exist peacefully and inter marry.

Water Supply

The provision of potable water for the people in the district is a herculean task because of the settlement pattern. There are small communities or settlements scattered throughout the length and breadth of the district. The sources of water are streams, rivers, small dams and the Black Volta River on the western corridor of the district along the Burkina Faso boundary. To address the water problem in Wechiau Township, the District Assembly is providing town with pipe borne water through CWDA and to drill 55 bore holes district wide and to rehabilitate the broken down bore holes. Over 140 hand dug wells were also sunk district wide with support from Pronet North.

Demographics

Population

The 2000 National Population and Housing census results put the Wa West District population at 69,170. This is about 6.20% of the Upper West Region’s total population of 576,583. The population comprises 33,547 males and 35,623 females representing 48.50% and 51.50% respectively and the sex ratio is 94 males to 100 females (Source:200 NPHC). Using the growth rate of 1.7%, the projected population for 2009 is 80,502, comprises 39,043 males 41,459 females representing 48.50% and 51.50% respectively and the sex ratio is 94 male to 100 females ( Source: WWDA). There is intense pressure on the natural resource particularly land for agricultural production as well as socio-economic facilities. The growth rate of the district is estimated to be 1.7%.

Labour Force

Seasonal migration is an important characteristic of the Wa West District population. Migration is now a global phenomenon and generally refers to the movement of people from their birthplace to a new place of residence for various reasons. In the case of Wa West District, this happens during the long period of dry season from October to April annually when the youth especially migrate to the southern parts of Ghana to undertake any jobs they can find to avoid staying underemployed throughout this period. The trend now is that more of females migrate to the south of Ghana to serve as “Kayayo” or “tavama”. Migration has a serious implication on the development of the district: losses of productivity, the possibility of contracting HIV/AIDS and other STDs as well as unplanned pregnancies are some of the possible effects.

AGRICULTURE

Crops.

The agricultural economy in the district is basically rural in nature involving over 90% of the population who are subsistent farmers. The farming system in the district is dictated by the agro-ecological conditions; largely by the rainfall pattern which is uni -modal. Two clearly defined farm types are recognized in the district. These are compound and bush farms. Compound farms surround the settlement and are put under intensive cultivation on annual basis. Land preparation is by hand hoeing and in few cases, draught animals and tractors are used. Fertility management of the soil lies in the use of household refuse, crop residue and animal dung. Crops planted are mostly maize, sorghum groundnut cowpea and vegetables. Stimulant crop such as tobacco may also be planted but on a very small scale. Yields realized on compound farms are usually not the best due to low yielding varieties coupled with low soil fertility and erratic rainfall. Bush farms on the other hand, are cultivated further away from the settlements and cropping pattern may be alternated with short fallows or rotations. There is great diversity of crops cultivated. These may include cereals legumes, roots and tubers as sole crops or intercropped. Land preparation is by hand hoeing, draught animals or by the use of tractors. Land holdings are usually large and crops normally depend on the inherent fertility of the soil to complete their life cycle. This answers why farmers rotate their crops and to a larger extend fallow their lands. That which is characteristic of bush farms is the integration of economic trees (Shea/ dawadawa) that are well protected on the same piece of land. Plantation crops such as cashew, mangoes are consciously established by farmers in the district. Mango plantations are established (100 acres each) at Chiatanga and Chogsia.

2010 CROPPED AREA AND PRODUCTION OF SELECTED CROPS.

NO. CROP CROPPED AREA IN HECTARES PRODUCTION IN METRIC TONNES
1. Maize 4880 (12,200 ACRES) 6832
2. Sorghum 7100 (17,750 ACRES) 7100
3. Millet 7180 (17,950 ACRES) 3590
4. Rice 1450 (3,625 ACRES) 3190
5. Yam 4830 (12,075 ACRES) 55642
6. Groundnuts 18300 (45,750 ACRES) 29280
7. Cowpea 3840 (9,600 ACRES) 3456
8. Soya bean 4250 (10,625 ACRES) 6800

Source: RADU, 2010 annual crop survey.

Fisheries

The district is blessed with a number of water bodies including the Black Volta. Inland fishing is practiced as an economic activity in the district.

Livestock

The raising of large ruminants, small ruminants, poultry and pigs is a common practice in almost every household in the district. Cattle however, are treated as a household asset and directly under the control of the family head. Small ruminants, pigs and poultry can be owned by individual members of the family. Generally, livestock are raised to meet certain social, financial and economic needs. Production is mainly traditional and a good number of them are left to feed on free-range. Housing in most cases is inappropriate and health care is very minimal.

SUMMARY OF LIVESTOCK CENSUS, 2010

ANIMAL TYPE CATTLE SHEEP GOATS SWINE DONKEYS POULTRY HORSES
POPULATION 28,789 17,873 13,798 14,045 75 100,552 1

SOURCE: DADU WA WEST DISTRICT, 2010 ANNUAL REPORT.

PROJECTS

Central government funded other projects – Livestock Development Project (LDP), Rice Sector Support Project (RSSP), Root and Tubers Improvement Programme (RTIMP), West Africa Agricultural Productivity Project (WAAPP),

The presence of four (4) NGOs is recognized in the district – Emergency Rice Initiative Project (ERP), ACDEP, Plan Ghana, and Sustainable Livelihood Project as a way of moving Agriculture forward in the district.

Table: List Government funded Projects and NGOs

Projects Start Time End Time Achievement
Livestock Development Project (LDP 2003 2010 Capacity building
Rice Sector Support Project (RSSP), 2009 2013 Capacity building
Root and Tubers improvement and Marketing Programme(RTIMP). 2009 2014 Capacity building
West Africa Agricultural Productivity Project(WAAPP) 2011 Capacity building
ACDEP – NGO 2010 Credit.

Capacity building

Groups formation

Support soyabean production

Plan Ghana -NGO 2006 2010 Child support

Provision of cattle &goats to women groups

Capacity building

Emergency Rice Initiative Project( ERP), 2009 2012 Capacity building
Sustainable Livelihood Project – NGO 2005 2010 Capacity building

CONTACT DETAILS

P. O BOX 21

Wa

West District

APPENDIX A (SKETCH MAP OF WA WEST DISTRICT):