PHYSICAL AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
Location and Size
The Bongo District is one of the nine Districts in the Upper East Region and shares boundaries with Burkina Faso to the North and East, Kassena-Nankana West and East Districts to the West and Bolgatanga District to the South.
It lies between longitudes 0.45o W and latitude 10.50o N to 11.09 and has an area of 459.5 square kilometres. It lies within the Oncho-cerciasis-freed zone.
Topography and Drainage
The topography is generally flat or low lying with outcrops of granite and Birimian rocks. Areas occupied by granites are generally of low, gently rolling relief 90 to 300 metres above sea level. The soils are moderately well drained course textured soils, occupying larger parts of land on middle and upper slopes and less frequently on summits.
The soils are rich in phosphate. The district is drained by the Red Volta river and its main tributaries namely, the Ayedama and Kulumasa Rivers. The area has one large dam at Vea, nine small dams and five dug-outs located in Bongo, Gorogo, Gambrungu, Dua, Balungu, Yidongo, Adaboya, Atampinti and Feo.
Geology and Soil
Granite rocks under lie the entire Bongo District. The rocks have out crops, which are visible throughout the area. They have well-developed fractures, which makes boreholes and drilling of wells possible. The granite rocks, which obtrude all over the landscape, could be a source of material for the construction industry.
The Bongo group of soils is developed over Bongo granites. They are characterised by numerous groves of baobab trees. The parent materials of the soils have been known to be very productive due to the high potash and phosphate content of the parent rock. Human population densities on these soils are high. Owing to long periods of intensive farming accompanied by mismanagement of the land, soil exhaustion and erosion are prevalent. Over wide expanses, very severe erosion has resulted in the formation of lithosols.
The soils are well drained, friable and porous and possess good filth. Consequently, they have good water holding capacity. They are inherently fertile but for the most part farmed more or less continuously has made them lacking in organic matter nitrogen. This has affected crop yield in the district. The soils are rich in phosphate and support crops like millet, sorghum, rice, maize, groundnut, cowpea, bambara beans and vegetables.
The climate of the district is similar to the ones experienced in other parts of the Upper East Region as well as the Upper West Region. Mean monthly temperature is about 21oC. Very high temperatures of up to 40oC occur just before the onset of the single rainy season in March. Low temperature of 12oC can be experienced in December when desiccating winds from the Sahara dry up the vegetation.
During the long dry season which starts from Mid October to April, ideal conditions are created for bush fires, which have become an annual phenomenon of the environment. For Agricultural purposes the critical factor is the one rainy season (May to Mid October), which occurs in the whole of the Upper East Region. The district has an average of 70 – rain days with rainfall ranging between 600mm and 1400mm. The rains fall heavily within short periods of time and are prone to flooding fields and eroding soils into rivers, which dry up soon after the rainy season. Because of inadequate vegetation cover, the flooding and erosion are severe.
The District is covered mainly by the Sahel and Sudan-Savannah types of vegetations; comprising open savannah with fire-swept grassland and deciduous trees. Some of the most densely vegetated parts of the District can be found along river basins and forest reserves. Examples are the Sissili and Asibelika basins, Kologo and Naaga forest reserves. Most of these trees in the forest areas shed off their leaves during the dry season. The vegetation type is conducive for animal rearing especially small ruminants and poultry.
The vegetation consists of short deciduous trees often widely spaced and a ground flora composed of different species of grasses of varying heights. Very little of the vegetation exists in its original form. The few indigenous tree species are mainly those of economic value and include baobab, shea, mango and dawadawa trees. There is the Red Volta Forest Reserve, which supports wild life namely baboons, monkeys, rats, mice, grasscutters, rabbits, dwarf buffalo, antelopes and wild guinea fowls.
The natural environment consists of fauna and flora in general. These include the trees, vegetation cover and rivers. On the whole, Bongo District falls within the Guinea Savannah ecological zone.
Impact of Human Activities on the Environment
In the past decades, there has been an increase in the amount and intensity of agricultural and other socio-economic activities involving the exploitation of natural resources. This, by its very nature, results in the degradation of the environment. The end result has been to create an adverse effect on the balance between man and nature.
Apart from inappropriate farming practices, land degradation can be attributed to the following factors: high population density, over stocking and overgrazing, bush burning, tree felling, land excavation for road and building construction.
Soil erosion is a major problem in many localities, leading to land degradation. The three forms of erosion experienced in the district are sheet, gully and rill erosions. The long dry season exposes soils to excessive run off at the beginning of the rains. In addition, the low organic matter content of the soils renders the latter liable to sheet erosion.
Gully erosion has affected many river banks as well as roadsides. Gullies of over 3 metres deep and over 4 metres wide are not uncommon. Many of the river banks in the district portray this feature. Rill erosion is Common near the head waters of rivers and streams, where erosion takes place in small, undefined non-permanent excavation, bush burning, removal of vegetation cover, inappropriate farming practices, etc stretches of land bearing scars of excavation can be seen along the major feeder roads in the district.
This situation has grave consequences for the district if not addressed properly. The desert is fast approaching the district considering the enormous felling of trees in the localities. The water bodies are dying out coupled with severe soil erosion. This situation has also escalated the already precarious food shortage in the District.
The district will have to intensify its education on the need to protect the environment especially by planting trees in the localities. The introduction of alternative energy sources could go a long way to curb the intensive felling of trees for fuel wood and charcoal in the District. The intensification of education on the need to adopt modern farming practices is very critical in the district to ensure that the environment is protected.
Major Environmental Challenges are summarised below:
- Land degradation/Soil Erosion
- Declining soil fertility
- Reduction in Land Carrying Capacity
Boreholes and hand dig wells are the main source of potable water for the people. The table below shows the number of functional and non-functional boreholes in each of the seven Area Councils in the District.
The main Water and Sanitation Delivery Agency is the Community Water and Sanitation Project Phase-Two (CWSP-II) funded by the World Bank. However, the project has been replaced with the Community-Based Rural Development Project (CBRDP) to take care of the provision of point sources whilst the CWSP-II continues to deliver the Small Towns Water System.
Rural Aid, a British NGO, World Vision Ghana, European Union Micro-Projects Programme, Action Aid and the LACOSREP-II Projects have also provided quite a number of water and sanitation facilities in the District. The water delivery points in the District include boreholes, hand-dug wells fitted with pumps. Plans are also far advance to provide a Small Town Water System for the Bongo Township and its environs.
There are 335 boreholes in all the seven Area Councils with 23 being non functional due to faulty parts. It must however be stated that 35 of the boreholes have been capped due to high fluoride content. This brings the functional borehole in the district to 275.
9% of the population in the district walk within 500m to access potable water, which is a recommended distance for one to access potable. 11% of the entire population of the district have access to 35 litres of potable water a day.
When one uses distance and litres to determine surface accessibility, only 32% of the district population have access to potable water and therefore the situation in the district is very devastating.
Age and Sex Distribution of the Population
The table below shows the sex distribution by age
|0 – 4||48.8||51.2|
|5 – 9||49.2||50.8|
|15 – 19||50.4||49.6|
|20 – 24||40.7||59.3|
|25 – 29||38.2||61.8|
|30 – 34||38.5||61.5|
|35 – 39||39.6||60.4|
|40 – 44||38.6||61.4|
|45 – 49||41.0||59.0|
|50 – 54||42.5||57.5|
|55 – 59||44.4||55.6|
|60 – 64||45.8||54.2|
|65 – 69||51.4||58.6|
|70 – 74||54.4||45.6|
Source: Report of 2000 Population & Housing Census 2005
The male projected population for 2010 is 60,094 which represents 47% of the total population whereas the female projected population is 67,765 representing 53% of the entire district population.
The age, sex structure for the district is presented pictorially in the population pyramid below.
The structure shows that in the adult age group of 20–44 years, the females are more than the males. Females in the district form more than half of the population. This phenomenon is very significant for planning and budgeting in the district. These would have to be done with a gender lens especially when it concerns resource allocation and implementation of programmes and projects. Also, there are socio-cultural practices which negatively affect women and the girl child in the district and this need to be looked at critically.
Sex and Rural-Urban Distribution of the Population
Rural – Urban distribution by sex
|Sex||Population||Percentage Distribution (%)|
|Male||60, 094||60, 094||Nil|
|Female||67, 765||67, 765||Nil|
The Bongo District is predominantly rural and it is characterized by large household size, high population density, and high fertility rate as found in other parts of the region.
The settlement pattern of the district exhibits rural characteristics. Apart from the district capital, Bongo, all the other communities are made up of small farm settlements scattered around the district. According to the projected population for 2010, Bongo Township and its environs has a population of about 18,913 which accounts for about 18% of the entire population of the district. Other relatively larger settlements like Namoo, Soe, Zorko- Kanga and Beo exhibit similar characteristics.
According to the Report of the 2000 Population and Housing Census, 66.4% of the active labour force in the district is employed in various sectors of the district economy. This is made up of 67.7% female and 64.7% males. The above picture shows that more females are employed than the males.
The unemployment rate in the district is 26% which is more than twice the National average of 10.4%. It is also higher than the Regional average of 20.1%. Bongo District has the second unemployment rate in the Region apart from Bawku West which is 27.4%.
The above situation poses a big challenge to the District Assembly and Development partners in the district to put in place concrete programmes and projects to create jobs for the large labour force who are not employed.
Principal Agricultural crops grown are indicated below:
Tree Crops: Mango
Roots & Tubers: Sweet Potato
Cereals: Millet, sorghum, rice, maize
Fruits and Vegetables: Water melon, tomato, onion, pepper
Leguminous: Groundnut, cowpea, soya bean
Area Planted to Selected Food Crops (Ha)
Production of Selected Food Crops (000 Mt.)
The District has one major dam at Vea and seven small scale dams in the District. The small scale dams in which there are organized fishing are indicated below:
- Bongo Central
It must however be stated that fishing is not well developed. Farmers do fish hunting and individually.
Apart from the small scale dams and the Vea dam, fish hunting also take place in the Red Volta.
The major livestock grown in the District are indicated below:
Table 5: Livestock Population
|Type of Livestock||2001||2002||2003||2004||2005||2006||2007||2008||2009||2010|
Table 6: Meat Production (Mt)
|Type of Livestock||2001||2002||2003||2004||2005||2006||2007||2008||2009||2010|
- Fertility rate of animals: Cattle 65 – 78%,
Sheep 70 – 80%,
Goats 70 – 82%,
Pigs 80 – 85%
- Litter size per type of animals: Kids = 1 – 2
Lambs = 1 – 2
Calves = 1
Piglets = 6 – 8
Nannies = 6 – 8
Indicated below in the table are the projects being implemented in the District.
Table 7: Agricultural Project Implementation
|Northern Rural Growth Programme (NRGP)||2009||2014||
||A total no. Of 111 farmers are involved (20% Female)|
|Block Farms Project||2008||–||On-going|
The major potential of the Bongo District Agriculturarily is the development of the oncho – freed zone where there are vast arable fertile lands covering an estimated area of 1,000 Ha. The area is suitable for the following crops: