Sissala East



The Sissala East District is located in the North- Eastern part of the Upper West region of Ghana. It falls between Longitudes. 1.300 W and Latitude. 10.000 N and 11.000 N. The district has a total land size of 4,744 sq km – representing 26% of the total landmass of the region. It shares boundary on the North with Burikina Faso, on the East with Kassena Nankana and Builsa Districts, to the South East with West Mamprusi District, South West with Wa East and Nadowli Districts and to the West by Sissala West District. See Map Below 150w, 300w" sizes="(max-width: 718px) 100vw, 718px" style="border: 0px; margin: 0px 7px 2px 0px; font-family: Tahoma, Geneva, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; line-height: 18px; outline: 0px; padding: 4px; width: 732px; max-width: 100%; float: left; display: inline;">

The district, due to its position, has an advantage for trade and other cross border activities. This locational advantage is a potential for the development of the local economy. This notwithstanding, the district by its location, also faces the threat of illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries. Notably is the insecurity posed by the insurgence of Fulani herdsmen into the district which has become a yearly ritual. On the whole however, the Sissala East district, by its location, is well positioned for enhanced socio-economic, cultural and political interaction with the neighbouring districts as well as Burkina Faso.

Relief and Drainage

The topography of the Sissala East district could be described as gently undulating. It is generally characterised by gentle latitudes of between 330 and 365m in the northern part descending to 220m and 290m in the Valley of the Sissili River. The district is mainly drained by the Sissili River and its tributaries flowing in the south-eastern direction to join the White Volta. This is coupled with several tributaries and other unnamed streams. Though they have potential for supporting agricultural activities in the dry season, they equally serve as constraints in roads constructions and therefore access to communities during rainy season. A significant characteristic feature of most of these rivers and streams is their perennial nature of their flows. The flow of the Sissili River itself reduces to intermittent pools in the dry season. Many of these streams could be developed to support dry season farming. The constant drying of the rivers necessitate the drilling of boreholes to supplement the seasonal shortage of water in the district which in one way might have accounted for the out migration of the population during the dry season. The rich valleys of the Sissili River maintain a vegetative cover that provides an abode for wildlife and further protect the land from erosion.


With a gently undulating topography, the district is bound with fresh granitic. The granitic and bramine rocks weather fast as a result of low rainfall, high evaporation and sparse vegetative cover to form soils of lesser depths rich in minerals for potential farming. The bramine and granitic geological formations in the district are characterised by meta-sediments and meta-volcanic rock formation. The bromine formation has a 65% of yielding underground water, while the granite has 55% chances of yielding water. The geology of the district thus provides potential for underground water development.

There are varieties of soils in the district which support plant growth to various degrees. The type of soils in the district includes Savannah Ochrosols, Tropical brown earths and Terrace or Alluvial soils. These soils are better suited for the cultivation of cereals and root tuber crops including millet, maize, sorghum, yam and cash crop like cotton. They respond well to the application of organic manure and commercial fertilizers to give high yield. With adequate rains and good farming practices, these soils have the potentials of improving agriculture production.

Map of Sissala East District

Source: Ministry of Health/Ghana Health Services/IMCC

Vegetation and Climate

Sissala East District falls within the Guinea Savannah vegetation belt. The vegetation consists of grasses with scattered fire resistant trees such as the Sheanut, the Baobab and Dawadawa trees. Acacia is also a common tree of this vegetation belt. The heterogeneous collections of these trees meet domestic requirements for firewood and charcoal, construction of houses, cattle kraals and fencing of gardens. The shorter shrubs and grasses provide fodder for livestock. This has resulted in high influx of Fulani into the district. Their activities have to be appropriately controlled and managed if the environment is to be sustained and food security assured. The sheanut tree is one of the great economic assert of the District and head portage has been the most common means of transporting the fruits from the farm to the house. This industry can be developed to serve as major source of livelihood in the district. The forest reserves cover a total area of about 267sqkm and encourage a rich stock of mammalian wildlife.

The climate of the Sissala East District is tropical continental as experienced in the northern regions of Ghana. Throughout the year, temperatures are high with a minimum of 23ºC at night and a maximum of 42ºC during the day and this favours plant growth.

The mean monthly temperature ranges between 21ºC and 32ºC. The highest monthly maximum temperature rises up to 40ºC before the rainy season in May with lowest minimum temperature falling to about 12ºC in December when the Harmattan winds from the Sahara dries up the vegetation.

The district experiences a single rainy season (May to September/October) conventional rainfall. In 2009, the first quarter of the year recorded 6.9mm of rainfall. However, for the 2nd quarter, the erratic nature resulted in 447.2mm of rainfall which was an improvement over the previous year leading to early farming of crops particularly maize. At the beginning of the 3rd quarter another drought period almost brought threaten food production. As the season advanced, rains set in many parts of the district and the quarter registered 937.4 mm of rain. The rains intensified and resulted in floods which affected food crops yields (by 40%) especially maize and groundnuts. Some field were totally submerged under water and others washed away. This affected the entire district but the eastern block was worse affected.

As a result of the single maximum rainfall prevailing in the district all year round, crop production is mostly done during the rainy season (May to September/October). However, since farming is the major occupation of the people, it means that their major sources of livelihood and income are limited during the dry season apparently resulting in the migration of the youth to the south in search of greener pastures. There is thus, the need to have adequate irrigation facilities to promote and enhance agricultural activities in the dry season. In addition, it is imperative to identify and provide alternative source of livelihood to the people to complement their occupation and improve their income generating capacity. The total number of rain ranging between 70 to 80 days in 1999 as compared to 51 days of rain in 2009. The mean annual rainfall in 1999 was 121mm as recorded as compared to 104 in 2009. There is an indication that the number of days of rain as well as the mean annual rainfall are decreasing in the district. This has implications for food security in the district.


Sissala east district is mainly covered by guinea savannah vegetation with few savannah supported trees such as the Sheanut, Baobab and Dawadawa trees. However, human activities such as farming and bush fires, shifting cultivation, felling of trees for firewood and charcoal production and overgrazing by animals contribute greatly to deforestation and soil erosion in this natural environment. Government institutions and NGOs have instituted measures such as agro-forestry, tree planting and extensive education against bush fires to curtail these problems. However, environmental degrading activities still persist in the district and possess a threat to food security in the district.

The new National Wildfire Policy advocates for the management of wildfires in lieu of absolute prevention and likewise the District Assembly needs to have in place an appropriate wildfire management programme to contain the impact of wildfires on the natural environment. There is the protection of wildlife mammals and other wildlife species through forest conservation and community management of the reserve. The management of forest and forestry resources is handled at the district level, by forestry services division, NADMO, the Ghana National Fire Service, NGOs and Community- Based volunteers. These institutions are however confronted with challenges that need to be addressed.



As at 2006 the district population was estimated at 51,182 with an annual growth rate of 1.7%. With this growth rate, the district population is currently estimated at 54,752. The settlement pattern is highly dispersed and rural by nature. This affects the siting of socio-economic facilities such as boreholes, electricity extension among others. The male/female ratio of the population is 96 males to 100 females. At the moment it is only Tumu, the district capital, controls 22.1% of the district population and it is the only settlement that qualifies as a town by virtue of its population. There are however other settlements that are growing in size. Table 1 presents the population of the first top ten settlements in the district.

Table 1: Population sizes of first ten settlements-between 2000 and 2010 compared

  2000 2010
Settlement Male Female Total Male Female Total
Tumu 4270 4588 8858 5817 6301 12118
Sakai 1005 921 1926 1822 1975 3797
Wellembelle 1804 1593 3397 1662 1801 3463
Nmanduanu 659 550 1209 750 814 1564
Nabulo 1070 915 1985 724 784 1508
Nabugubelle 540 475 1015 670 726 1396
Bugubelle 974 885 1859 657 711 1368
Kulfuo 493 407 900 536 581 1117
Sakalo 351 276 627 388 421 809
Bujan 327 295 612 375 407 782
Total 11493 10905 22388 13418 14520 27923

Figure : Population Changes, 2000-2010


The Sissala East District has a projected total households of 8,570 (DSDA II 2006) living in about 5,852 houses. The household size in the district is about 8.4 with 46.5% of them very large, with 9 or more people per household. The mean household size in rural areas is larger than Tumu. The age structure is typical of a young population, and basically, more than 85 % of the people living in the rural settlements.

The amenities and assets available to the households is an indicator of its socio-economic status. In the Sissala East District, about 11% of the households have access to electricity. The main source of drinking water is protected wells, boreholes, rivers and streams with the only pipe system in Tumu. Majority of these households share toilet facilities with one or more households.

The only urban settlement in the district is Tumu which has a current population of 10878 (2006). The Tumu Township lack proper physical planning and non compliance with building regulation. Mud and thatch are the major building materials used; especially in the rural communities with few buildings built with cement blocks and aluminium roofs which are mostly predominant in the Tumu Township.

The main fuel for cooking in most of the household is firewood (80%) and charcoal (19%) with the remaining 1% using LPG. More than 70% of the households own basic items such as radios. The common means of transport among household are motorcycles and bicycles.

Most of the individuals and households living in this district have farming as their main occupation. The over dependence on rainfall for agriculture render most families unemployed during the long dry spell which directly hamper growth in family income. The level of formal education among adult is very low where about 92% of the total population have not had any formal education which creates difficulties in change of attitudes. Judging from these challenges, household income and expenditure is difficult to estimate for the district because it is not possible for many families to keep records. However, it could be generalised that household expenditure is on basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing. The subsistence nature of the economic activities means that many households merely make ends meet. A large percentage (84%) of the population live below the poverty line, earning far less than ¢ 900,000 per month.

Cultural Characteristics

The district is made up of different cultures. This dynamic culture has been handed over to the present generation by their forefathers through experience and reflection in an attempt to fashion and harmonise co-existence with the environment. Some of the positive cultural practices of the citizenry are the celebration of the “Paara Gbiele” festival which is celebrated once every year. The Sissalas, like any other tribe in Ghana have their own social gathering which include; outdooring, weddings, burials, dressing and the like. The Kasena in the eastern corridor, the Dagaabas dotted in the district also have their unique cultures which can be harmonise to improve the district development.


A number of tourism potentials have been identified in the district. These include Kasena slave market at Kasena, Wotuomo cave between Dangi and Lilixia, Hunter’s footprints at Dolibizon, Mysterious rocks at Pieng, Mysterious river at Nmanduanu, Bone setters at Wuru, Kwapun and Banu, Historical site at Santijan and the White man’s grave at Tumu. These tourist sites can be developed further and they can be a major source of revenue for local economic development.

Despite the diverse cultural practices, the people of the district have a strong enthusiasm for communal labour. With the assistance of the Assemblymen and Women, CBOs, Unit Committee members, self-help development projects were implemented. However, some of the cultural practices in the district have adverse effects on the people and development in general. Female genital mutilation (FGM) was paramount among the indigenous people but has reduced drastically with educational campaign. Except Wellembelle and some few communities where there are some minor conflicts, there is generally peaceful co-existence among the people

Ethnicity and Religion: There has no been a major change in the ethnic and religious composition of the district. There are five main ethnic groups comprising the Sissala’s (88%), Kasenas (5%), Dagabas (3%), Moshies (2%) and 2% comprising of other ethnic groups. Despite these ethinic compositions in the district, the people co-exist peacefully. On the other hand, the religious composition in the district includes Moslems-81%, Catholics-10%, Traditionalist-5%, and other accounting for about 4%. This variance religious composition in the district notwithstanding, cordial relations exist among these religious groups. The cordiality prevailing amongst these religious groups serves as a catalyst for developmental programmes and projects in the district. Each religious celebration is done with the participation of other religious groups.

Spatial Organisation

Tumu the district capital is located at the extreme northern part of the district. Certainly, it is the largest populated settlement in the district, and hence most economic activities are located there to enjoy maximum patronage. Tumu is therefore the centre for socio-economic and cultural activities in the district.

Most of the ten highly populated communities are therefore located close to the district capital. Tumu has been the only recognized town with regard to its population and therefore has become the seat of local government as well as the seat of the traditional authority. The long existence of Tumu as the district capital of the then Sissala District and presently the Sissala East District has made it a common area of facility concentration.

Tumu as a transit for traders bound for Burkina Faso has made it a vibrant commercial town. In this regard, Tumu, the district capital attracts immigration of people from the various communities and Burkina Faso.

Therefore out of the 65 communities in the district, development is skewed towards the district capital and its surrounding communities.

Despite inadequate provision of basic facilities and services in the district, the few available facilities are not evenly distributed. For instance, out of the 65 communities, only 7 of these are connected to the national grid. Amongst these communities, about 95% of the population enjoying the services of electricity from the national grid live in Tumu.

The district hospital, which is the only standard hospital in the district, is located in Tumu. Telephone services are more concentrated in Tumu Township and its surrounding communities. The services of Areeba, Tigo and One Touch cellular networks are currently in operation in the district. These cellular communication networks are enhancing socio-economic activities in the district.

The district also enjoys services of only one Post Office, one police station, and a magistrate court, all situated in Tumu. There is however one police post at Wellembelle, the next populated town after Tumu. Banking services are carried out by the Ghana Commercial Bank, Agricultural Development Bank and the Sissala Rural Bank. These are all located in Tumu and do not adequately serve the banking needs of the people in the district.



The larger agricultural sector seventy-six percent (76%), service and commerce fifteen percent (12%), and the industrial sector nine (12%). The Sissala East District is basically rural with more than eighty percent 80% of the people living in rural settlements and are engaged in farming.


The district economy is mainly agrarian. This makes agricultural related activities the predominant activity employing a greater proportion of the population. The people practice subsistence farming with only a few engaged in commercial cotton farming. The main crops are cereals such as millet, maize, sorghum, and rice. The rest are groundnut, cowpea, yam and cotton. Please find below the production trends:

Table2: Hectares of the Major Crops of Upper West Region in 2010(Sissala East District highlighted)

Maize Rice Millet Sorghum Yam G’nuts Cowpea Soyabean
9,180 200 4,560 1,110 2,550 10,510 8,640 150
Yields of Major crops in Metric Tonnes per Ha in 2010 (Sissala East District Highlighted)
Maize Rice Millet Sorghum Yam G’nuts Cowpea Soyabean
2.00 2.08 1.90 1.60 13.00 1.50 1.00 1.93
Production of Major crops in Metric Tonnes in 2010 (Sissala East District highlighted)
Maize Rice Millet Sorghum Yam G’nuts Cowpea Soyabean
18,360 416 8,664 1,776 33,150 15,765 8,640 290

3.1.2 Detailed information on Livestock Production

Animal rearing places a secondary role to crop farming in the district. Types of animals reared include; cattle, sheep, goat, swine and poultry

Detailed Information on Fish Production

In the district there is no planned fish farming programme, except capture fisheries in open water bodies like dams and dugouts, and rivers and streams that run across the district. In all there are ten dams in the district that contain water up to sometime in the dry season. Two rivers also drain the district to the east and north-west- the Sissili and Wahabu Rivers. These are the main sources of capture fisheries. The wrier could not obtain any figures to portray the amount of caches per time period. These rivers also have tributaries, and these are all sources of the capture fisheries, but the activities of the fishers are difficult to capture for the estimates.

Summary of Field Demonstrations

In the three years of the demonstrations (2007 to 2008) demonstrations to farmers were about the importance of agronomic practices to optimise yields, and livestock feeding and housing to increase productivity of the stock. The six field staff (AEAs) undertook five demonstrations each, two on a cash crop (groundnuts) and three each on a staple food crop (grain maize). This makes a total of 30 demonstrations. Three of the AEAs also demonstrated improved livestock housing and feeding using cajanus cajan biomass that the farmers were encouraged to plant themselves for the purpose.

For the maize and groundnut crop, MOFA recovered one-third of the produce from each contact farmers who did the demonstrations each year. A total of at leats 40 maxi-bags maize and 60 maxi-bags groundnut were recovered from the farmers and these were ploughed back into buying the inputs for the succeeding demonstrations each year. The farmers got at least seven to fourteen maxi-bags maize and twelve to sixteen maxi-bags groundnuts from the demonstrations. This was an improvement of 50% to 100% yields over that of the farmers’ practices.

When the mini-demonstrations were stopped and the concept of block farming came, the demonstrations continued in them. Over 2,500 farmers have been taken on field trips in 2009 and 2010 to fields that are exemplary for the farmers to learn grain maize agronomy and to improve their yields back home.

The impact of the demonstrations was that over five thousand other farmers visited and learned improved crop agronomy or livestock housing and feeding from the contact farmers. Out of this number, at least three thousand farmers put to use what they learned.

Fertiliser Subsidy

As is expected, the district started the Ghana Government fertiliser subsidy programme with the rest of the country in 2008. In the first and second years of this programme coupons were used by farmers to acquire fertiliser from retailers. Because of its problems, the coupon system was replaced by a waybill system in 2010. In 2008, NPK, UREA and Sulphate of Ammonia were received from the regional MOFA office and distributed to farmers in the district. A total of about 8,250 bags fertiliser was purchased by the farmers using the coupons that year.

In 2009, another NPK, UREA and Sulphate of Ammonia were received again from regional MOFA offices in Wa and distributed to farmers. Farmers bought about 17,050 bags of fertiliser. Again the figures are probably lower than what is the true situation on the ground, as explained above.

For 2010 a total of 70,117 bags NPK,Sulphate of Ammonia, and UEA were purchased by farmers for use.

Special Projects

a. Northern Rural Growth Project (NRGP)

Under this project the district got nine groups of 112 farmers (22 male and 90 male farmers) to produce grain maize last year for the first time. In the middle of the production (at weeding and fertiliser application), fertilisers were not available for the farmers to apply. It was expected to recover 3,256 max-bags maize. From results of the harvest, farmers have made it and more than half so far have paid up the loans contracted (about 66% recovery). Only two groups are yet to pay up. The project has threatened police action and the groups in the project have vowed to settle their indebtedness before the end of April.

b. Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS)

This is an initiative of scientists from SARI and CSIR, to promote improved storage of grai legumes (cowpea) for better incomes among farmers in Ghana and other selected African countries. It entails the use of a double -lined special polythene sheets to store the cowpea to last four months or more. Over twenty communities have been selected and demonstrations have gone on for some time now in these communities on how to use the polythene materials and the results thereof. So far farmers have realised the superiority of this technology over their own practices, and are demanding for the poly-sheets for their use.

c. International Centre for Enterprise and Sustainable Development ( ICED)

For income to farmers and possible integration into domestic and international markets, the ICED has initiated this project. The project is a centre of excellence in animal production. The project promotes excellence in the production of guinea fowl and swine among farmers in the Northern part of Ghana through training for farmers and interested development agencies. So far a total of about 15, 500 guinea -keets have been procured in three batches over three years, from 2007 to 20010. The project will take delivery of another 2520 keets by 22 April for brooding and distribution to farmers. The fowl s are raised for about two – tow and a half months and sold out to interested farmers to cross their local stock and improved them. Other farmers who may want to hatch the eggs are also supplied the eggs from egg-laying stock remaining with the centre. So far about 3041 guinea fowls have been sold out to farmers from all districts in the region and from Northern, Upper- East and Bolgatanga Districts for crossing the local stock. Presently there are a 515 male and female mature guinea fowls left after the sale of the last batch, for obtaining hatchable eggs for farmers to purchase and hatch.

Exotic pigs are also kept for breeding and supply of the off-springs to interested farmers to rear and sell for better income. So far 24 pigs have been reared and sold out to farmers for rearing in the district. Another 10 animals were culled and sold out to the public for consumption as meat. In stock presently are 14 Ashani-Black breed, and 16 large-white pigs.

d. Livestock Development Project (LDP)

Under the credit-in-king scheme, 120 farmers were given a total of 1,200 sheep and goats since 2010, when the concept started. Performance of the animals in the beginning was below expectations because the animals were mostly brought to the district already diseased. However at the moment performance is average and recovery will be average as well – that is, some of the farmers will be able to provide the ten animals in return for taking ten animals from MOFA. The first batch of the beneficiaries who received the animals is expected to start giving out the ten each as from next year, 2012.

Special Porgrammes

a. Block Farming (Youth in Agricultural Programme)

For two years now the District Agricultural Development Unit has facilitated the production of about 1,255 acres maize grain under the Youth in Agricultural Programme in 35 communities and a total of 1,560 farmers (52 females and 1,508 male farmers) across the district. Yields were 50% to 100% more than under farmers’ practices. Due to popular demand, this season(2011), the district estimates to increase the acreages to 2, 000 for maize grain, and 500 soybean. At the moment the dirtcit is registering interested farmers.

Please find quantity of the inputs that were issued to farmers from regional level for production in 2010 under Block Farming.


Input received Quantity


source Quantity issued (kg) Quantity in stock (kg) remarks
Maize seed(Obatanpa) 8,100 RADU 7,875 225  
NPK(16-16-16) 860 bags

600 bags



1,460 All issued to farmers under Block Farming

150 bags



750 All issued out to farmers under Block Farming
Jute sacks 3,893 bags RADU, UWR 2,334   Actually received 3893, and 107 bags damaged level

Source: Sissala East District Agric. Dev. Unit, Tumu(Block Framing, 2010), 2010

3.1.8 Information on new initiatives

a. Rice Sector Support Project (RSSP)

This is a bilateral Co-operation project between Ghana and France to boost rice value-chain development in Northern Ghana. In the district, three communities (Chinchang, Wallembelle and Bujan ), total of more than 500 acres . The communities have already been animated to do the initial land clearing, and then machinery will be brought in to plough the fields for rice production this year in these communities.

b. The Sissala East Greening and Food Security Project (SEGFSP)

This is a pilot project to protect the environment of the district before it worsens to the point of that of some of the other districts in the region.

As part of its mandate, all field staff of MOFA undertakes training and sensitization of communities about land and environmental degradation. The district agricultural development unit is a lead implementer of the Sissala East Greening and Food Security Project. Though the project covers the entire district, an initial 11 communities are earmarked for support to plant trees or rear small ruminants this year 2011. These are tarsaw, Pina, Kong, Taffiasi and Du-east who will benefit from tree planting. Some of these communities, together with others like Chinchang, Tumu and Banu are earmarked for rearing the animals. Awareness creation has already gone on in the entire district about the climate change and its consequences, the project’s objectives, project approach, deliverables and the roles of communities in the project.

EPA also facilitates a project on environment in the district, and MOFA is a key implementer. Four Communities have been chosen and animation is ongoing in these communities towards tree planting, compost production and livestock rearing under an alternative livelihood initiative in the project.

c. AGRA Soil Health Project

This is another initiative of the scientific world to respond to a donor’s assistance to improve the productivity of farmers’ soils for better productivity and production. It commences in the district this year with a number of farmers as contact points to demonstrate the use of various technologies.

d. Mucuna trials

This is another science-based trials in the district that will be undertaken this farming season using a number of contact farmers to try out the performance of the cover crop called Mucuna as a soil protector, weeds smoother and a nutrient enrichment mechanism.

Location of other Office Branches

The district has thirteen Operational Areas dotted all round, for equity in services delivery, and for convenience of extension work. Each Operational Area is supposed to be manned by an Agricultural Extension Agent (AEA). For now the district has only seven AEAs and these are located at strategic points to even oversee areas without the AEAs(see organogramme for details of distribution of the AEAs). For the accommodation of staff in these operational Areas, under NAEP seven junior staff quarters that also serve as offices of AEAs were built in Nabulo, Tarsaw, Tumu, Mwanuonu, Sakai, Wallembelle, Kunchogo, for the AEAs.

There are dilapidated and abandoned offices of the former Animal Husbandry at Sakai. In Tumu the district capital, a Crops Services Directorate agricultural station that was meant for undertaking crop trials exists. These offices now serve as stores for the grain maize produce that we recover as loans under the block farming programme of the ministry. The veterinary Services has a clinic for treating animals in the district.

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