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Upper West
Today: Thursday, December 18, 2014


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Since 1988, Ghana has been operating the decentralized system of development with the District Assembly as the planning authority expected to initiate and coordinate the processes of planning, programming, budgeting and implementation of district plans, programmes and projects. The District Assemblies and their constituent organs are also mandated to carry out medium and long term planning that include integration of population policies and issues as they pertain to the needs of particular districts and communities. 

Physical features

Upper West  RegionThe region covers a geographical area of approximately 18,478 square kilometres. This constitutes about 12.7 per cent of the total land area of Ghana. The region is bordered on the North by the Republic of Burkina Faso, on the East by Upper East Region, on the South by Northern Region and on the West by Cote d’Ivoire. (Figure 1.1)


Vegetation


The region is located in the guinea savannah vegetation belt. The vegetation consists of grass with scattered drought resistant trees such as the shea, the baobab, dawadawa, and neem trees. The heterogeneous collection of trees provides all domestic requirements for fuel wood and charcoal, construction of houses, cattle kraals and fencing of gardens. The shorter shrubs and grass provide fodder for livestock.


Climate


The climate of the region is one that is common to the three northern regions. There are two seasons, the dry and the wet seasons. The wet season commences from early April and ends in October.


The dry season, characterized by the cold and hazy harmattan weather, starts from early November and ends in the latter part of March when the hot weather begins, with intensity and ends only with the onset of the early rainfall in April.


The temperature of the region is between a low of 150C at night time during the harmattan season and a high of 400C in the day during the hot season.


Political and administrative structure


The region is administered politically from Wa. The main administrative structure at the regional level is the Regional Co-ordination Council (RCC), headed by the Regional Minister.


Other members of the RCC include representatives from each District Assembly, regional heads of decentralized ministries, and representatives of the Regional House of Chiefs. The region has five administrative districts namely, Wa, Nadawli, Jirapa-Lambussie, Lawra and Sissala District Assemblies.


A Municipal/District Assembly, headed by a Chief Executive nominated by the President and approved by the Assembly Members, administers each district. Two-thirds of the members of the Assembly are directly elected. The other one-third is appointed by the Central Government in consultation with local leaders.


The districts are autonomous with regards to the planning, budgeting and implementation of projects. In addition, Area/Town Councils/Unit Committees assist in the performance of key roles.


There is also effective traditional leadership and vibrant Youth Development Associations to facilitate efficient and effective mobilization of local resources. The region currently has eight political parliamentary constituencies namely, Wa Central, Wa East, Nadawli North, Nadawli South, Jirapa, Lambussie, Sissala and Lawra-Nandom.


Wa West district carved out of the existing Wa district with Wechiau as its capital; Wa East district with its capital at Funsi, and Sissala West district with Gwollu as the district capital.




demographic characteristics


Demographic characteristics


The total population of the region is 576,583. This represents three per cent of the national population. The population of the region is not evenly distributed among the five districts. Wa has the largest population of 224,066, representing 38.9 per cent of the region’s population, while the remaining districts have about 15.0 per cent each.


Growth and density


The region’s population of 576,583 is a 31.6 per cent increase from the figure of 438,000 in 1984. The growth rate of 1.7 per cent between 1984 and 2000 indicates that the region’s population is growing at a slower rate than that of the nation (2.7Per cent). The region has a population density of 31.2 persons per square kilometre. Though this is higher than that of 1984, it is much lower than the national figure of 79.3 but higher than that of the Northern Region (25.9).


Comparatively, the region is larger than the Upper East with regard to land size (approximately 18,478 square kilometres compared to 8,842 square kilometres). However, it has a smaller population, a lower population density, fewer District Assemblies and fewer Parliamentary Constituencies than Upper East.


The country shifted from the Local Authorities system to the District Assembly concept of administration in 1988. With this change, the country was demarcated into 138 districts out of the existing local authorities. It is therefore not possible to derive trend data for the districts. The boundaries of the districts in 2000 do not necessarily conform to the boundaries of the local authorities in 1984 but are coterminous with regional boundaries (Ghana Statistical Service, March 2002).


Age and sex structure
Age structure


The characteristic of the age structure of Ghana is that of a high proportion of children (less than 15 years) and a small proportion of elderly persons (64 years and older). The age structure of the region, which mirrors the national picture, has a broad base (43.4%), representing children younger than 15 years and narrows up at the top with a small proportion (6.1%), representing the population aged 65 years and older.


The age-structure of the population in the districts is examined in broad and sometimes overlapping segments, each of which has implications for the demand for social services, future population growth, youth unemployment, the overall dependency burden, as well as the total labour force of the district.


In every district, at least 13.3 per cent of the population is a child below 5 years. The populations below 15 years fall within the narrow range of 40.5 per cent in Lawra and 44.2 per cent in Wa. This means that in all the districts, about two out of every five persons are children under 15 years of age who are almost entirely dependent on others for their needs.


The proportion of the population aged 0-4 years is lower than that of 5-9 years in each district. There is a difference of at least 11.0 percentage points in four districts and 6.0 percentage points in the fifth district, Wa. The youth aged 15-19 years are 9.0 per cent, or slightly higher, in each district. The median age of the population is around 18 years.


The population aged 65 years and older forms a small proportion of the population, ranging from 5.2 per cent in Wa to 7.8 per cent in Lawra, a reflection of the young age structure of the population of the districts.


Age Structure by Sex


The age structure for the sexes shows that although at the regional level there are more females than males, there are variations by age. There are more males than females in the age group 0-19 years. Between ages 20 and 69 years, there are more females than males but this changes again in favour of males for the elderly population, 70 years and older.


The observed age-sex structure at the national level depicts more females than males in almost every age group from age 20 years. The picture is, however, slightly different for Upper West in that males are predominant after age 70 years (Fig. 2.2). This may rather be a reflection of over statement of age for older male respondents or by interviewers since there is hardly any evidence of higher male survival than female at age 70 years and older in the region.


At the national level, females form 50.1 per cent of the population aged seventy years and older. However, in the region, the proportion is 48.1 per cent. The two adjacent regions, Northern (46.6%) and Upper East (47.2%) show similar deviations from the total country picture.


At the district level, the age structures for both sexes mirror the regional pattern. The fact that females outnumber males in the adult age groups may be due partly to out migration of able-bodied men to the southern regions of the country. This has implications for agriculture and food production, given the male domination in land ownership in the region. There are also implications for sexual and reproductive behaviour, even after taking into account the mitigating effects of polygamy.


Sex Composition


The sex composition of the districts favours females. In each district, females form a little over one-half of the population. The proportion of females in the region is 1.6 percentage points higher than the national average. In the region, three districts, Jirapa- Lambussie, Lawra and Nadawli, have slightly higher proportions of females than the regional average of 52.1 per cent.


Sex ratio


The age-sex ratios drop sharply at the regional level, from a high of about 110 males in the age group 15-19 years to below 85 males in the age group 20-24 years. The age-sex ratios remain low till age 40-44 years when they pick up again. The age-sex ratios from the age group 45-49 to the oldest age, pick-up gradually, in a consistent manner except for the dents at ages 50-54 and 60-64 years.


The observed pattern of the sex ratios reflects the effect of the sex ratio at birth, and the different patterns of migration and mortality for males and females. At the national level, the drop from age 15-19 to 20-24 is 13.1 percentage points while at the regional level, the drop is 26.2 points (from 109.5 to 83.3).


This is observed in each district. The magnitude of the drop however, varies between districts. The sharpest drop is in Lawra (30.0 percentage points), followed by Sissala (29.2 percentage points). The drop is lowest, 20.6 percentage points, in Nadawli.


Age-sex dependency ratios
Age dependency ratios


The dependent population is measured by the young population (aged less than 15 years) and the aged population (65 years and older). The dependency ratio is therefore defined as the ratio of the sum of the young and aged populations to the active population (aged 15-64 years) expressed as a percentage.


The proportion of the dependent population has declined from 51.3 per cent in 1984 to 49.5 per cent in 2000 and from a dependency ratio of 105.3 in 1984 to 98.2 in 2000. This implies that there are now fewer dependants for the economically active population to support in 2000 than in 1984, although the burden is still relatively high.


A large dependency ratio would increase expenditures, reduce savings and therefore investments. Resources would have to be diverted to maintain the high percentage of dependants instead of being used on capital formation and productive ventures.


Life expectancy, which is the average number of years a Ghanaian is expected to live, given the prevailing health and social circumstances, will generally be low. Those on whom so much is spent in the form of education and medical facilities may not live long enough to contribute to development in the future.


If they should contribute to production at all, it may be for relatively short periods. It must be noted that if children under 15 years eventually enter the labour market to search for work, they may increase under employment and unemployment unless the economy expands enough to absorb them through job creation, infrastructure improvement and skills training. The government also spends on pensioners and provides various facilities for children.


Birthplace and migratory patterns


Birthplace


. In the region, about 93.5 per cent of Ghanaians by birth were born in the region. The proportion varies between 76.1 per cent in Nadawli to 91.2 per cent in Jirapa-Lambussie. This implies that migrants into the region constitute between 8.8 per cent and 23.9 per cent of Ghanaians by birth in the districts. The highest proportion of migrants from within the region is recorded in Nadawli (16.9%) and the lowest in Lawra (3.0%). Lawra however, recorded the highest proportion of Ghanaians from other regions and outside Ghana (8.5%).


Migratory patterns


The volume of migration is generally low for both migration within the region and migration from outside the region. Only about seven per cent of Ghanaians by birth are born in different regions or outside Ghana. However, among the migrants, the regional capital district received the highest proportion (43.9 per cent).


 Nadawli district is the second most attractive destination, accounting for 20.6 per cent of the region’s migrant population. The Sissala district is the third most favoured destination, attracting 16.7 per cent of the migrants. The Lawra district has 10.4 per cent of the migrants. The Jirapa-Lambussie district is the least attractive destination of the migrants accounting for only 8.4 per cent.


The region shares a common border with the Northern Region and the Upper East Region. Data show that proximity of these two adjacent regions does not appear to be a significant pull factor for migration into the districts. Persons born in these two regions and in Upper West account for less than one out of every five migrants from outside the region (19.3%) compared to 27.8 per cent from Ashanti.


Almost seventy four per cent of the migrants (73.5 per cent) come from the southern sector of the country and about a third of them from Ashanti. Migrants from other Ecowas countries, other Africa countries and from outside Africa, make up 7.2 per cent of all migrants to the region.


The distribution of the migrants from the other regions to the five districts. Migrants from the Ashanti Region are attracted to all the districts. They constitute 34.6 per cent of migrants in Nadawli, 28.7 per cent in Jirapa-Lambussie, 27.1 per cent in Lawra, 27.0 per cent in Wa. Sissala (20.9%) is relatively the least attractive to migrants from the Ashanti Region.


Migrants from Brong Ahafo (18.9%) are not particularly concentrated in any specific district, although they are unevenly spread in the districts; over a quarter (27.7%) in Lawra, about a fifth each in Jirapa-Lambussie (22.2%) and Nadawli (20.3%) and about the same proportion in Sissala (15.9%) and Wa (14.0%). Migrants from the Upper East Region are concentrated mainly in Sissala (21.3%), a border district and to a lesser extent in Wa (8.2%). Those from the Northern Region are mostly found in Wa (19.9%), Sissala (12.2%) and Jirapa-Lambussie (13.1%).


Migrants from the Western region are mainly in Nadawli (16.1%) and Lawra (9.7%) while those from the Greater Accra region are almost evenly distributed in all districts except Nadawli (3.8%). Generally, migrants from all the other regions are broadly spread in all the districts.


Population distribution - rural-urban composition


The region has 17.5 per cent of its total population living in urban localities and is second to the Upper East Region as the least urbanized. There are only six urban localities in the region, almost all located in the regional and district capitals.


Although the total urban population is still relatively small, the six urban centres have grown tremendously since 1970. Wa, the regional capital, is the most significant, having grown from 13,740 in 1970 through 36,067 in 1984 to 66,644 in 2000 (84.8% increase).


Tumu, the second largest town in the region, grew from 4,366 in 1970 to 6,014 in 1984 (37.8% increase) and to 8,858 in 2000 (47.3% increase). Jirapa also increased by 55.3 per cent from 3,520 in 1970 to 5,466 in 1984 and by 47.5 per cent to 8,060 in 2000. The population of Nandom which was 3,236 in 1970 increased to 4,336 in 1984 (34% increase) and again to 8,060 in 2000 (85.9% increase).


Lawra’s population of 2,709 in 1970 increased to 4,080 in 1984 (5.6% increase) and to 5,763 in 2000 (41.3% increase). Hamile increased by 72.2 per cent from 2,526 in 1970 to 4,349 in 1984 and then by 20.6 per cent to 5,245 in 2000.


Wa is the most urbanised district in the region, accounting for about two-thirds (65.8%) of the region’s total urban population. Over a tenth (13.2%) is in Jirapa- Lambussie and 12.2 per cent is in Lawra. Nearly a tenth (8.8%) is in Sissala. Nadawli is entirely rural.


 All the six urban localities in the region are in four out of the five districts. The Wa District, which is 29.7 per cent urbanised, has only the capital Wa, as an urban locality. Jirapa-Lambussie has two urban localities, Jirapa (8.3%) and Hamile (5.4%). Lawra District also has two urban localities: Lawra (6.6%) and Nandom (7.4%).



nationality and ethnicity


Nationality and ethnicity


Of the total population of 576,583 enumerated in the region, 95.1 per cent are Ghanaians by birth while 2.9 per cent constitutes naturalised Ghanaians. Other ECOWAS nationals constitute 1.2 per cent whereas African Nationals other than ECOWAS (0.3%) and Non- African nationals (0.5%) account for 0.8 per cent.


Ethnicity


In the region, there are two predominant ethnic groups, the Mole Dagbon (75.7%) and the Grusi (18.4%). The Wala (16.3%) of the Mole Dagbon and the Sissala (16%) of the Grusi are the major subgroupings in the region. Other indigenous ethnic groupings collectively constitute an additional 5.0 per cent of the population in the region, while all Akan ethnic groups put together constitute 3.2 per cent.


There are wide variations within the districts. For example, in Nadowli (91.7%) and Lawra (90.5%), the Dagaabas constitute more than 90.0 per cent of the population. The Dagaabas who are also in the majority in Jirapa-Lambussie (71.8%) constitute the largest single ethnic group in Wa.


Although the Sissala make up only 16.0 per cent of the population of the region, they constitute 74.9 per cent of the population of the Sissala District and an important minority ethnic group in Jirapa-Lambussie (13.5%). The Walba (Wala) also make up 16.3 per cent of the region’s population but are concentrated in Wa (40.3%).


Religious affiliation


There are three main religious groups in the region, Christianity (35.5%), Islam (32.2%) and Traditional (29.3%).


There are very marked differences among the districts in relation to religious affiliation. Christians make up the largest religious group in two districts Nadawli (58.5%) and Lawra (56.4%), with a very strong presence in Jirapa-Lambussie (42.5%) and Wa (24.7%).


The Islamic religion has most of its adherents in Sissala (70.1%) and in Wa (44.4%). Adherents of traditional religion make up 44.8 per cent of the population in Jirapa- Lambussie, with fairly good presence in Lawra (34.1%), Wa (27.1%) and Nadawli (25.0%).


Catholics constitute the majority of Christians in all districts, ranging from 69.3 per cent in Wa to 96.1 per cent in Jirapa-Lambussie. The Pentecostal/Charismatic group is the second largest denomination, after Catholics. Other Christian groups are as important in Wa as the Pentecostal/Charismatic and are second to Catholics in Sissala.


Educational attainment and literacy
School attendance


Information on school attendance was collected from all persons 3 years or older. Such information relates to full time education in an educational institution.


Such institutions include nursery, kindergarten (pre-school) primary middle, junior secondary, secondary/senior secondary/vocational/commercial, teacher training college, university or similar types of school where a person spends or has spent at least four (4) hours a day receiving general education in which the emphasis is not on vocational skill or trade training.


Although the information on school attendance was collected for all persons 3 years or older, the official school entry age in the country is 6 years. Much of the analysis therefore focuses on school attendance of persons age 6 years and older.


For the country, the proportion of the population that has ever attended school is 61.2 per cent in 2000, (66.9% of males and 59.5% females). This means that the proportions who have never attended school at the national level is 38.8 per cent (33.1% males and 44.5% females).


Comparing these national figures with those for Upper West Region, one observes a very wide gap in the educational attainment between the country as a whole and the region. In the region, 69.8 per cent of the population, aged 6 years and older, have never attended school (65.1% males and 73.9% females).


At the district level, Sissala has the highest proportion (75.4%) of the population aged 6 years and older that never attended school (73.1% males and 77.6% females).


Lawra has the lowest proportion (65.1%) of the population without formal education (60.3% males and 69.3% females). The low level of education in the region is due not only to general poverty and cultural practices but also to the very late introduction of higher education into northern Ghana.


This, in effect, limited education in the north to primary and middle school levels for the older generations and is reflected in the high proportion of those who attained only primary/middle school level in the region.


This situation is most likely due to the combined effects of the late introduction of Western education, the influence of Islamic religion, general poverty and other cultural practices.


Current school enrolment, in primary one, is still generally lower in the region compared with the national situation for both males and females. Substantial differences also exist between the national and regional pattern at the JSS level.


The gross Admission ratio (GAR) is the number enrolled at a first grade divided by the population of the appropriate age group (the official entry age) multiplied by 100. The gross enrolment ratio (GER), in say primary school, is the number of pupils enrolled in P1-P6 divided by the total population of primary school going age (6-11 years) multiplied by 100.


Data on current enrolment shows that the gap between boys and girls in school attendance is minimal. At the entry point of both primary (74.5% boys and 75.6% girls) and JSS (36.4% boys and 36.3% girls) the proportions of boys and girls admitted are about equal, but at every level, the proportion of girls progressing to the next grade reduces from one grade to the next, such that there is a widening (though small) gap between boys and girls.


Educational attainment


For the population aged six years and older who have ever attended school, 45.1 per cent attained primary level, 23.8 per cent attained middle/JSS, and about one in eight (12.8%) attained Secondary/SSS. About five per cent attained each of the other levels: vocational/technical/ commercial (5.6%), post-secondary (5.6%), and tertiary level (5.2%).


The rather large proportion of the educated population of the region attained only primary and Middle/JSS, as the highest level (68.9%). This poses a big challenge for the full implementation of the fCUBE and other education improvement programmes.


 Data show that in each district, at least 60.0 per cent of those who had ever attended school attained primary or middle/JSS level. The proportion varies from 64.7 per cent in Wa to 74.4 per cent in Nadawli. Within each district, at least 10.0 per cent of those who had ever-attended school attained secondary/SSS level.


This proportion ranges from 10.4 per cent in Nadawli to 15.3 per cent in Sissala. The proportion that has vocational/technical/ commercial education ranges from 4.2 per cent of the educated in Sissala to 6.4 per cent in Wa.


The proportion that attained post secondary level ranges from as low as 4.3 per cent of the ever-attended school in Nadawli to as high as 6.5 per cent in Wa, where they are above the regional value. The proportion that attained tertiary level ranges from 3.4 per cent in Nadawli to 5.9 per cent in Wa. The proportions are above the regional value of 5.2 per cent in Wa and Lawra.


There is a disparity in the level of educational attainment between males and females in the region and in each district. At the regional level, the proportion of females who have ever attended school and attained the level of primary school constitutes 48.0 per cent while that of the males is 42.7 per cent. At the secondary school/SSS level the proportion is 14.1 per cent for males and 11.2 per cent for females, and at the vocational/ technical/commercial level the proportion for both sexes are the same. At the post secondary level, the proportion is slightly higher for males (6.3%) than for females (4.7%)


It is noted that at the tertiary level, the proportion of males (5.7%) is slightly higher than that of females (4.6%). After the Middle/Junior Secondary School level, the proportions for females begin to reduce as they progress to the tertiary level. Differences in educational attainment between males and females in the region may be explained by differences in initial enrolment as well as to differences in continuation rates.


Since fewer females than males had ever attended school, even assuming the ideal situation of females achieving the same continuation rates as males, there is bound to be fewer numbers of females at each successive level of educational attainment. In the region and in each district, the proportions for females are highest at the pre-school and primary, but lower after the middle/JSS level, as they progress to the tertiary level.


In the region, and in each district, the proportion of the educated population (aged 6 years and older) that attained secondary school or higher is lower for females except at the Vocational/Technical/Commercial level where they are the same (5.6%).


Of those who have attended school in the region, 29.2 per cent attained secondary school or higher. The proportion for males is 31.7 per cent compared to 26.1 per cent for females. A comparison of the regional and national levels shows that the region and districts have higher proportions than the country as a whole, at secondary school or higher.


Literacy


At the regional level, the proportion of the population aged 15 years or older that is not literate in any language is 73.4 per cent, which is much higher than the national average of 42.1 per cent. The overall level of illiteracy in three of the five districts (Nadawli, Sissala and Jirapa-Lambussie) is higher than the regional average of 73.4 per cent.


The data also show that for the region as well as for each district, illiteracy is higher for females than for males. For females, the level is higher than the regional value in the same districts where illiteracy levels are higher than the regional level.


The 2000 Census results show that only 25.4 per cent of the region’s population aged 15 years and older is literate in either English or a known Ghanaian language or literate in both English and a Ghanaian language Since most publications and mass communication are in English, the proportion that is effectively functional is only 24.3 per cent in the region (13.4% in English only and 10.9% in English and a Ghanaian language).


In the districts, Lawra has the highest functional literacy level (28.3%), with males at 34.2 per cent and females at 23.7 per cent, followed by Wa 27.5 per cent and Nadawli 21.7 per cent. Sissala (19.7%) and Jirapa-Lambussie (19.5%) have levels of effective functional literacy just below 20.0 per cent.


Literacy in a Ghanaian Language is low in the region. The proportion literate in a Ghanaian language (Ghanaian language only 1.1%, and English and a Ghanaian language 10.9%) is only 12.0 per cent. In the districts, this proportion ranges from 4.2 per cent in Sissala to 15.2 per cent in Lawra.


Since instruction in schools in Ghana is in both English and a Ghanaian language, the low level of literacy in “a Ghanaian language” in the region may therefore imply that the teaching and learning of Ghanaian languages in schools in the region are not being pursued in a sustainable manner.


The differences in the proportion which are effectively functionally literate and the proportions literate in a Ghanaian language may also imply that literacy in the region is acquired mostly in the classroom setting than through the existing adult education or functional literacy programmes.



economic characteristics


Economic characteristics


75.4 per cent of economically active persons had worked for at least one day during the reference period. There is no substantial difference between the proportion for males (74.8%) and females (76.0%). About a tenth (9.6%) had a job but did not work. The proportion unemployed constitutes 15.0 per cent, which is higher than the national figure of 12.5 per cent.


At the district level, the proportions of those employed or who had jobs but did not work or were unemployed follow the regional patterns closely. In each district, except Wa and Sissala slightly more females than males had worked. The proportion of males who had worked ranges from 65.2 per cent in Lawra to 83.6 per cent in Jirapa-Lambussie. The proportion for females ranges from 66.6 per cent in Sissala to 86.2 per cent in Nadawli.


Unemployment is slightly higher for males than for females in the region. The overall level of unemployment is highest in Sissala and Lawra. In the region as a whole, unemployment is higher in the urban areas (18.5%) than in the rural areas (14.3%).


 It is also higher for females than for males in the urban areas. The proportion is the same for males and females in the rural areas. Urban unemployment is also higher in the region compared to the total country figure of 15.6 per cent. In Wa, unemployment is higher in the urban areas, compared to the rural areas and also higher for females in both the urban and rural areas.


In Sissala, the proportion unemployed is about the same in both urban (19.8%) and rural (19.4%) areas. In both urban and rural areas, more females than males are unemployed, with the urban areas recording a larger a differential between males and females. In Lawra and Jirapa-Lambussie, however, unemployment is higher for males than for females in both urban and rural areas.


The not economically active (aged 15 years and older)


In the region and in each district, females constitute the higher proportion of the not economically active due mainly to the higher proportion of females who are homemakers. Persons who are not economically active are mainly homemakers (32.9%) and students (24.2%).


 Among this category, males are about twice more likely than females to be students (49.5% males as against 25.6% females). Females are thrice more likely than males to be homemakers (37.7% females 12.7% males).


The regional pattern is replicated in each district. The proportion of the not economically active who is students ranges from 28.2 per cent in Sissala to 39.1 per cent in Jirapa- Lambussie. In each district, twice more males than females are students, and there are substantially more females being homemakers than males.


About seventeen per cent (17.7%) is not working because of old age. The old age category ranges from 13.9 per cent in the Wa district to 19.9 per cent in Jirapa-Lambussie. In each district, except Sissala, there are more females than males who are not working because of old age.


The retired/pensioner group makes up about two per cent of the not economically active population. The proportion ranges from 1.4 per cent in Sissala to 2.6 per cent in Lawra. The proportion not working because of some disability ranges from 2.9 per cent in Sissala to 5.3 per cent in Nadawli, with an average of 4.0 per cent for the region.


Age structure of the economically active population (aged 15 years and older)


In the region, the total economically active population aged 15 years and older is 241,209 - representing 41.8 per cent of the region’s population. The data show that in the region as a whole, and in each district, there is a large pool of human resources available to work. The economically active are young and thus, available to work for a long period.


In the region, as a whole, the proportion of young adults (aged 15-29 years) is 37.3 per cent. In each district also, energetic young adults (15-29 years) constitute at least one-third of the economically active population. The proportion ranges from 33.1 per cent in Lawra to 43.6 per cent in Sissala.


The proportion of the population aged 30-44 years and who are likely to have considerable work experience constitutes between 30.2 and 33.2 per cent of the economically active population in the districts. The proportion of the economically active population aged 45-59 years is 18.3 per cent, varying from 14.9 per cent in Sissala to 20.5 per cent in Nadawli.


Age specific activity rates


The volume of economically active population is normally presented in absolute numbers as a percentage of the total population. The percentage computed as such represents the overall extent of participation of the population in economic activity and is termed crude activity rate or labour force participation rate.


This rate is expressed as a ratio of the economically active population to the total population. For the analytical studies in economic activity, however, it is rather essential to compute the activity rate by age since it varies widely by age. The agespecific rate is calculated by dividing the economically active population within a particular age group by the total population that constitutes that specific age group.


The age-specific activity rates in relation to the proportion of economically active population in each age group. It can be observed that age groups between 30 and 60 years have activity rates over 80 throughout the five districts. Interestingly, the activity rates for the age-group 60 years and older (which is the retirement age for the formal sector) are relatively high but decline as the age increases.


One would hardly expect to have high activity rates associated with the population aged 75 years and older. However, it can be noted that the activity rates are slightly above 50 in three districts, with Jirapa- Lambussie having the highest (57.2).


Nadawli has the lowest age-specific activity rate in the region (45.6). This is because, in mainly agricultural areas, the farmers tend to remain active until they are too old to work. The age group 15-19 years also record high activity rates that is fifty per cent or higher in four of the five districts, and below fifty per cent in only Lawra.


Occupation


The major occupations in the region are Agriculture and related work (72.0%), Production and Transport Equipment work (12.1%), Sales work (5.2%), Service work (4.0%), and Professional, Technical and related work (4.0%). The five, together constitute at least 96.0 per cent of the occupations in each district.


In all districts, the order of Agriculture as the number one occupation, is maintained. Production and Transport Equipment work which ranks second at the regional level, retained that position in all districts.


Professional and Technical work (the third major occupation region wise) retains the third position in all the districts except Wa where it ranks fourth. Sales work, which ranks fourth at the regional level, maintained this position only in Lawra; it ranks third in Wa and fifth in the remaining three districts.


For males, agriculture (77.6%) is the most predominant occupation, ranging from 69.8 per cent in Wa to 86.5 per cent in Sissala. It is followed by Production and Transport Equipment work (7.4%), which ranges from 4.3 in Sissala to 9.4 per cent in Wa. The third occupation is Professional/Technical (5.1%), with 3.5 per cent in Sissala as the lowest and 6.3 per cent in Lawra as the highest proportion.


For females, Agriculture is also the top occupation (67.2%), with the lowest proportion in Nadawli (60.8%) and the highest in Sissala (82.0%). It is followed once more by Production/Transport Equipment work (16.4%), varying from 6.7 per cent in Sissala to 30.1 per cent in Nadawli. Unlike males, however, Sales is the third predominant occupation among the females (6.7%), with the highest proportion in Wa (11.2%) and the lowest in Nadawli (2.2%).


This once more supports the findings that sales occupation is predominantly an urban phenomenon. For both sexes, the three top occupations account for over 89.0 per cent, 88.5 per cent for males and 90.3 per cent for females in the region.


Industry


The three major industrial activities at the national level are Agriculture, including Hunting, Forestry and related workers (49.1%), Wholesale and Retail trade (15.2%) and Manufacturing (10.9 %). The three together account for 75.2 per cent of the industrial activities of the economically active population (aged 15 years or older). The three major industrial activities at the regional level are also Agriculture, including Hunting, Forestry and related workers (73.3%),


Manufacturing (8.9%) and Wholesale and Retail trade (4.9%), together accounting for 87.1 per cent of industrial activities in the region. The proportion engaged in education in the region (2.9%) is slightly lower than in the country (3.4%).


These four are the major industrial activities in each district, with Agriculture as the major industrial activity in all districts and for both males and females. The proportion engaged in Agriculture ranges from 67.7 per cent of the economically active population in Lawra to 85.3 per cent in Sissala.


Manufacturing (9.2%) is the second major industry, with the lowest proportion (2.8%) in Sissala and the highest in Nadawli (17.7%). Wholesale and Retail trade is the third major industrial activity in the districts. It accounts for 8.2 per cent of all industrial activities in Wa, down to 1.4 per cent in Nadawli. Education is the fourth major industry in each region. The proportion in this category ranges from 2.2 per cent in Nadawli to 3.6 per cent in Lawra.


All the remaining 12 industry groups (“All others”) together make up only 9.9 per cent of industrial activities in the region. The category “all others” reaches 10.0 per cent or more of total industrial activities in only Wa (12.4%) and Lawra (11.5%).


The distribution of industry groups by sex shows that the proportion of males in Agriculture related work, is higher than that of females in each district. The same is true for Education. In the other two major industry groups, Manufacturing and Wholesale/Retail trade, the proportion for females is at least twice that for males in each group and in each district.


The differences are higher in the Manufacturing industry since pito brewing, sheabutter and groundnut oil extraction are the economic activities in which women are mostly prominent. Nadawli has the highest proportion of females who are in the Manufacturing industry (28.0%), followed by Lawra (21.2%). What is described as “manufacturing” is mostly smallscale cottage industries such as shea nut and other oil and fat extractive industries, brewing of local drinks, black-smithing, metalwork, weaving, etc.


Employment status


Another important characteristic of the economically active population is their employment status. In the country as a whole, 67.5 per cent of the economically active persons are selfemployed without employees and 5.2 per cent are self-employed with employees. Formal sector employees constitute 15.2 per cent. Less than a tenth (6.9%) are unpaid family workers, apprentices (3.4%) or are domestic employees (0.7%).


The employment status of the economically active population aged 15 years or older for the region and districts. In all the districts, 59.3 per cent of the economically active population are self-employed without employees. The corresponding proportion is 55.2 per cent in Wa, 71.1 per cent in Nadawli, 55.4 per cent in Sissala; 60.7 per cent in Jirapa-Lambussie and 60.9 per cent in Lawra.


Unpaid family members form the next highest group (28.4%) with proportions ranging from 20.3 per cent in Nadawli to 35.0 per cent in Sissala. The likely explanation of the high proportion of unpaid family workers is that, in this rural agricultural region with about 80.0 per cent working in the informal sector, be it agriculture or small scale manufacturing industries, the household is the production unit with household members as the main source of labour.


 Even though they may not be paid any specific wages, they benefit in kind, including having a share of farm produce, free accommodation and even free meals.


The Employees and the Self-employed with employees (who could be taxed at source) make up less than a tenth in every district except Wa (13.2%) and Lawra (10.9%). Such an employment structure poses a challenge for the effective mobilization of tax revenue, financial assistance and capital mobilization and has implications for any policy on taxation, economic expansion and job creation.


Males and females show a similar pattern of employment status with only small differences in favour of males. For the employee in every district however, there are approximately two males to each female employee. There are generally, more female unpaid family workers and domestic employees than males.


Institutional sector of employment


Most economically active persons, 77.9 per cent, are employed in the private informal sector. The private formal sector employs 16.1 per cent of the economically active population in the region. The proportion in this sector varies from about 10.0 per cent in Nadawli and Jirapa- Lambussie to 19.8 per cent in Lawra. If the private sector (both formal and informal) is to be the engine of growth then it should be harnessed to play a leading role in the growth of the region’s economy.


The public sector, including semi public and parastatals, employs only 5.2 per cent of the workers in the region. In the districts, the proportion ranges from 3.2 per cent in Nadawli to 6.8 per cent in Wa.


The distribution of workers by institutional sector by sex shows that the private informal sector remains the largest employer of the working population for both males and females in every district. In each district, there are slightly more females than males in this sector.


On the other hand there are twice as many males as females, in the public and semipublic/ parastatal sectors. In the other formal sectors, (private formal, NGO/International Organization, and others) males and females are represented in approximately the same proportions in each district.


Working children


The phenomenon of working children (i.e. engagement in economic activity by children of school going age 7-14 years) is widespread in the region and in the districts. The distribution of working children by occupation, industry, employment status, and institutional sector generally follows closely the pattern of the adult population in each district.


It is worth nothing that, on Census Night 2000, a third (33.8%) of children in the region, aged 7-14 years were working; with an additional 4.0 per cent having a job but not working and just under a tenth (9.4%) declaring themselves actively in search of a job.


The percentage of working children, aged 7-14 years, varies from 23.6 per cent in Lawra to 40.4 per cent in Jirapa-Lambussie. The economic activity rate of 7-14 year olds varies from 36.0 per cent in Nadawli to 56.9 per cent in Sissala.


The relatively high proportion of children 7-14 years that are economically active (47.2%) in the region is also accompanied by a relatively low percentage (33.6%) of children in this age bracket who are in school, varying from a low of 26.8 per cent in Sissala to 42.6 per cent in Nadawli.


Over four fifth (85.6%) of the working children were in Agriculture, varying from 79.3 per cent in Nadawli to 92.4 per cent in Sissala. Almost the same percentage were engaged in Services (5.7%) and Production, Transport and Equipment Operators and related labourers (5.8%).


In Wa, 85.6 per cent of the children were engaged in Agriculture and related work. One in twenty (5.7%) were Service Workers (5.8%) and 2.7 per cent were Sales Workers, or were in Production, Transport and Equipment and related work.


The major activities of the working children in the region are: Agriculture, Forestry and Hunting (86.9%) distantly followed by Private Household Services (3.2%), Wholesale and Retail Trade (3.0%) and Manufacturing (2.9%).




cultural and social structures


Cultural and social structures


The major ethnic groups in the region fall under the broad generic categories of the Mole Dagbon (75.7%) and Grusi (18.4%). The major languages of the region are Dagaare, Sissali, Wale and Lobi.


Religious affiliation


There are three major religious groupings in the Region, Christianity (35.5%), Islam (32.2%) and Traditional religion (29.3%).


Architecture


The people of the region have a similar style of architecture as that of Upper East. Houses are constructed mainly with mud, with mostly rectangular rooms unlike in Upper East where rooms are predominantly round.


The architecture of the region has been influenced by the Larabanga Mosque which was built by the Moslem immigrant traders from Northern Africa, mainly Mali, who later settled in Wa. Because the Christian influence was already strong in the Upper East and Northern Regions at the time, this architectural style could not be passed on to the other areas.


The houses are built in the form of compounds with gates and with walls plastered with mud with cement as the main material of the floor. The rooms are mostly decked with mud, and in certain instances, houses are built up to one storey and roofed with iron sheets or thatch from grass. Most of these locally constructed storey buildings can be found within the chief’s palaces, all over the region.


Festivals


Festivals such as Kobine, Kakube, Zumbeti, Willa, Dumba, Paragbiele, Bagre, Kala, Bongngo and Singma portray the way of life of the people of the region. For instance, the Dumba, which is celebrated by the Walas, is to usher in the New Year. It is at this festival that the Chief is assessed as to his physical fitness to continue to rule his people.


During the festival, a live cow is tied and confined to the ground after which the Chief is asked to jump over it without any part of his body or his clothes touching it.


 If the Chief is able to successfully jump over it, then, it is a clear indication that he would live to continue ruling his people but if he fails, it is a bad omen which presupposes that he would die shortly because he is considered weak and has no long life to rule anymore. The Kokube festival celebrated by the people of Nandom and the Kobine by the people of Lawra have a common significance and are celebrated to offer thanks to God through the ancestors for blessing them with a bumper harvest.


Handicrafts


Culture is not only observed through the celebration of festivals but can be seen also in handicrafts. In Upper West, the people are engaged in spinning, weaving and smock designing. They produce very beautiful musical instruments like the xylophone and engage in pottery, blacksmithing and carving.


Tourist centres


Areas of tourist attraction areas in the region include the Wa Naa’s Palace and Dondoli Sudamic (Larabanga) Mosque, Jirapa Naa’s Palace, Nandom all-stone Gothic Art Church and the Hippopotamus Sanctuary at Wechiau. These apart, areas like the Gwollu Slave Defence Wall and Slave site caves as well as George Ekem Ferguson’s tomb attract tourists to the region.


The major ethnic groups in the region fall under the broad generic categories of the Mole Dagbon (75.7%) and Grusi (18.4%). The major languages of the region are Dagaare, Sissali, Wale and Lobi.


Religious affiliation


There are three major religious groupings in the Region, Christianity (35.5%), Islam (32.2%) and Traditional religion (29.3%).


Architecture


The people of the region have a similar style of architecture as that of Upper East. Houses are constructed mainly with mud, with mostly rectangular rooms unlike in Upper East where rooms are predominantly round.


The architecture of the region has been influenced by the Larabanga Mosque which was built by the Moslem immigrant traders from Northern Africa, mainly Mali, who later settled in Wa. Because the Christian influence was already strong in the Upper East and Northern Regions at the time, this architectural style could not be passed on to the other areas.


The houses are built in the form of compounds with gates and with walls plastered with mud with cement as the main material of the floor. The rooms are mostly decked with mud, and in certain instances, houses are built up to one storey and roofed with iron sheets or thatch from grass. Most of these locally constructed storey buildings can be found within the chief’s palaces, all over the region.


Festivals


Festivals such as Kobine, Kakube, Zumbeti, Willa, Dumba, Paragbiele, Bagre, Kala, Bongngo and Singma portray the way of life of the people of the region. For instance, the Dumba, which is celebrated by the Walas, is to usher in the New Year.


 It is at this festival that the Chief is assessed as to his physical fitness to continue to rule his people. During the festival, a live cow is tied and confined to the ground after which the Chief is asked to jump over it without any part of his body or his clothes touching it.


If the Chief is able to successfully jump over it, then, it is a clear indication that he would live to continue ruling his people but if he fails, it is a bad omen which presupposes that he would die shortly because he is considered weak and has no long life to rule anymore.


The Kokube festival celebrated by the people of Nandom and the Kobine by the people of Lawra have a common significance and are celebrated to offer thanks to God through the ancestors for blessing them with a bumper harvest.


Handicrafts


Culture is not only observed through the celebration of festivals but can be seen also in handicrafts. In Upper West, the people are engaged in spinning, weaving and smock designing. They produce very beautiful musical instruments like the xylophone and engage in pottery, blacksmithing and carving.


Tourist centres


Areas of tourist attraction areas in the region include the Wa Naa’s Palace and Dondoli Sudamic (Larabanga) Mosque, Jirapa Naa’s Palace, Nandom all-stone Gothic Art Church and the Hippopotamus Sanctuary at Wechiau. These apart, areas like the Gwollu Slave Defence Wall and Slave site caves as well as George Ekem Ferguson’s tomb attract tourists to the region.


Demographic characteristics


The region’s total population is 576,583 of whom 276,445 (47.9%) are males and 300,138 (52.1%), females. The region’s population is predominantly rural (82.5%). The dependent population of (>15 and <64 years) is 49.5 per cent. The region’s population forms 3.0 per cent of the total population of the country, while the sex ratio is 92 males to 100 females.


The region’s population indicates an increase of 31.6 per cent over the 1984 figure of 438,008, and translates into an intercensal growth rate of 1.7 per cent. The region’s population density of about 31 persons per square kilometre may appear low, but there is a large concentration along the western corridor (Lawra, Jirapa and Nadawli areas) where the density is higher than 97 persons per square kilometre.


Economic characteristics


The main economic activity of the people of the region is peasant farming. This is supported by the fact that 72.2 per cent of the economically active group are engaged in agriculture or related activities. The hard working farmers of the region cultivate maize, guinea corn, millet, yam, rice, soya beans and cotton in addition to the rearing of cattle in large numbers.



social characteristics


Social characteristics


There are 80,599 households in the region, which is about 2.2 per cent of the total households in the country. With a population of 576,583, this gives an average household size of 7.2 persons.


The total number of houses in the region is 51,898; which gives the average number of 1.6 households per house. Household sizes in the region are high, and the lowest, 6.7 in both Lawra and Nadawli, is higher than the national average (5.1).


Household size


For the purposes of this report, households are classified into single (1 person), small (2 persons), medium (3-5 persons), large (6-8 persons) and very large (9 persons or more).


The most common household in each of the region’s five districts is either the large household, or the very large. The large and the very large household sizes together account for 70.4 per cent of households in Sissala and between 58.3 and 63.2 per cent in the other districts.


The medium household size accounts for about a fifth of households in each district but does not exceed 30.0 per cent in any district. Neither the single-person nor the two person households is common in the region. The two categories together constitute only about a tenth (10.0%) of households in each district.


Household structure


Heads of households constitute 12.5 per cent of the members of households in the region. Temporary heads make up an additional 1.5 per cent of household members. At the district level, the proportion of the population who are heads of households ranges from 11.1 per cent in Sissala to 13.4 per cent in Nadawli, while the proportion of temporary heads ranges from 0.8 per cent in Sissala to 1.8 per cent in Jirapa-Lambussie. Spouses constitute 11.4 per cent of household members, ranging from 9.9 per cent in Lawra to 12.3 per cent in Wa.


Children of household heads make up the highest proportion of household membership in all districts. Children of household heads in the region constitute 39.5 per cent of household members, with variations from 41.3 per cent in Nadawli to 36.8 per cent in Sissala.


Other relatives


Other relatives form the second largest group of household members in the region (23.2%) and in all districts, with the highest proportion (29.5%) in Sissala and the lowest (19.7%) in Nadawli.


The traditional external family household composition has not changed much. This is supported by the fact that children, grand children and other relatives of the head constitute a significant proportion of household members (68.4%).


Household headship


The head of household is generally the person identified by members of the household as the one responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the household, including the exercise of authority over household resources. The proportion of the household members who are heads of households (including temporary heads) is 14.0 per cent in the region compared to 18.3 per cent for the country. Lawra has the highest proportion of household heads (15.0%), while Sissala has the lowest proportion of both substantive heads (11.0%) and temporary heads (0.8%).


While heads of households are predominantly males, temporary heads are mainly females. For the country, 79.3 per cent of temporary heads are females while 68.7 per cent of usual/substantive heads are males. In the region also, the proportion of female temporary heads is 82.1 per cent while the proportion of male heads is 81.7 per cent. In Wa, 79.9 per cent of the temporary heads are females. The proportion of female temporary heads is 71.5 per cent in Sissala the lowest, while in other districts, females comprise between 80.3 per cent and 86.9 per cent of temporary heads.


Sex of head of households


In the region, majority of households, 81.6 per cent, compared with 86.2 per cent in 1984, are headed by males. 18.4 per cent of households in the region are headed by females compared to 31.3 per cent in the country. The percentage of female-headed households for the country as a whole, has changed very little, from 31.9 per cent in 1984 to 31.3 per cent in 2000.


 In the Upper West Region however, the proportion of female headed households increased from 13.8 per cent in 1984 to 18.4 per cent in 2000. This is a welcome development in a region where, traditionally, males are almost always the heads of household.


The proportional distribution of heads of households by age and sex. The data show that although female household heads are few, their age distribution are fairly similar to that of the male household heads. In the region as a whole, about the same proportion of male and female heads are aged 50 years and older (44.4% male heads and 45.9% female heads).


The phenomenon of female household heads may be explained partly by the emerging modern trend of women delaying marriage or staying as single parents. The trend may also be due to breaks in marriage as a result of higher male mortality. The society is polygamous and women marry men far older than themselves. Many women are therefore likely to be widowed.


The practice of widow inheritance is gradually declining and widowed women may decide not to remarry or are unable to find suitable husbands. They may therefore decide to maintain themselves and their children as autonomous households.


In the region and in all the districts, household heads are mostly in the late adult ages. The median age of household heads is below 50 years. The proportion increases with up to age 50 years, after which it decreases with age. This pattern is the same for all sexes and in all districts.


This declining proportion of household headship after age 50 years tends to call into question the perception that the household composition in northern Ghana is characterized by a patriarch as head with married children and their families as members of his household. The observed pattern, on the other hand, may be the result of a better understanding of the household concept leading to a better identification of households.


Marital affiliation


Never married


The population aged 15 years or older who have never married ranges from 25.2 per cent in Nadawli to 28.7 per cent in Lawra. The proportion of never married males is within a narrow range of 34.1 per cent in Wa to 36.9 per cent in Lawra while that of females, which is much lower, falls within a wider range of 16.4 per cent in Sissala to 22.2 per cent in Lawra.


Ever married (current and before)


There is evidence of early and almost universal marriage in the region, especially for women. This is shown in the fact that, in the region and in each district, 73.8 per cent of persons aged 15 years or older have ever been married. The proportion ever married is below the regional average in only Lawra (71.3%), while in all other districts, the proportion is between 74.1 and 74.8 per cent.


More females (81.4%) than males (64.7%) have ever married. The lower proportion of males who have ever married also reflects the fact that men are more likely than women to delay marriage, since traditional practices expect the man to initiate the marriage by paying the bride price and take responsibility for family maintenance, both of which require careful preparation.


The region’s total ever married (73.8%), is higher than that of the country as a whole (68.1%). The proportion of males (61.0%) and females (74.9%) ever married, at the national level, are also lower than that of males (64.7%) and females (81.4%) in the region. In each district, the proportion of ever-married females is higher than that for males.


Currently married


Nearly two-thirds (63.0%) of the region’s population, aged 15 years or older, are married, made up of 58.3 per cent males and 67.0 per cent females. The proportion of males (58.3%) and females (67.0%), married in the region, is higher than in the country, 48.1 per cent males and 51.6 per cent females.


In the districts, the population married is higher than 60.0 per cent in four districts and 56.5 per cent in Lawra. Among the males, the proportion married ranges from 54.7 per cent in Lawra to 60.5 per cent in Sissala, while that for females ranges from 58.0 per cent in Lawra to 74.2 per cent in Sissala. Consensual union is not a common practice in the region, being only 1.4 per cent which is much lower than the national average of 6.7 per cent.


No longer married


In the region, separation, like consensual unions, is not a common practice; only 1.5 per cent of the population aged 15 years or older are reported as separated. This proportion of the population, who are separated in the region is slightly below the total country figure of 1.8 per cent. Slightly more females (1.6%) than males (1.3%), are reported as separated.


Only 1.6 per cent of the population aged 15 years or older is reported to be divorced in the region, ranging from 0.8 per cent in Jirapa-Lambussie to 2.2 per cent in Wa. The national figure of 4.8 per cent is thrice that of the region. Less than a tenth of the population of the region (6.3%) is widowed, made up of 2.2 per cent males and 9.7 per cent females. These proportions are higher than the national average of 5.0 per cent (2.1% males and 7.8% females).


The proportion of the widowed varies from 4.1 per cent in Sissala to 8.6 per cent in Lawra. The proportion of widowed females is about three times higher than that of males at the regional and district levels. The sex differential in the proportion widowed may be explained by both the higher survival rates of women in the region and the practice of polygamy. In the polygamous marriage, the death of the man results in more than one woman being widowed, whereas the death of a woman in the same polygamous union does not affect the marital status of the man. Another likely explanation of the differential is that men are more likely than women to remarry after the death of a spouse.


The high proportion of widowed women has implications for women and their children. The women bear the family burden, childcare, and child welfare against the background of general economic dependency of women and poverty of heads of households in the extended family.


 Most women are almost entirely dependent on their husbands and generally do not inherit any part of their husband’s property. The death of the breadwinner therefore creates an economic vacuum in the lives of the widow and her young dependent children.


Marital status of the population 12-14 years


For the country, only 3.8 per cent of those aged 12-14 years are reported as ever married. Ninety two per cent of the males and the same proportion of females, aged 12-14 years, have never married. This is similar to the national situation where 92.9 per cent of population aged 12-14 years, have never married.


The proportion of males (93.4%) and females (92.3%) is almost the same. In each district, at least ninety two per cent of those aged 12 years have never married. It is only in Wa that the proportion of the population aged 12-14 years who have ever married (currently or earlier) exceeds 9.0 per cent.


 


contact us


The Regional Minister
Upper West Regional Coordinating Council
P. O. Box 15, Wa
Upper West Region
Ghana
W / Africa


Tel:  (+233-756) - 22414 / 22040
Fax:  (+233-756) - 22040

 

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