The demographic characteristics of Builsa North Municipal have some common features with other rural Districts in Ghana.  The major demographic indicators and their implications for development are discussed below:

Size And Density: 

Builsa North Municipal had a population of 66,357 in 1984.  This increased to 75,375 in the year 2000 showing an average annual growth rate of about 0.82% over the 16-year intercensal period.

The total population consists of 51.8% (or 39,996) females and 48.2% (38,379) males. The sex ratio, defined as the ratio of males to females, is 93.2.  The population density based on the land surface is presently about 33.94 or 34 persons per square kilometer as against 30 persons per sq km in 1984.  The population density of the Upper East Region in year 2000 was relatively higher, about 104 persons per sq km. 

Age Distribution:

The Table 1:1A below shows aspects of the Age-structure of the Districts Population as depicted by the 2000 Census report.

Age Structure

The Age structure of the population of the Builsa North Municpal, like that of the Region and the Nation as a whole, indicates a broad base that gradually tapers off with increased age. This is typical of the age structure in developing economies whereby there is often too much stress on the National Government to provide goods and services consumed by children and the youth.  As observed in the Table 1.1A above, the age-structure is examined in broad and sometimes overlapping cohorts namely, children under five years (0-4yrs), children below 15 years (0-14), youth aged 15-19 years, the conventional work force age group 15-64 years and the aged/dependent group of 65 years and older. 

The size of each cohort has implications for the demand for social services, future population growth, youth employment, the overall dependency burden, as well as the total working force of the District.  Specifically, the Table shows that over one out of every eight persons (13.8%) in Builsa is a child below 4years.  The population below 15 years (0-14yrs) is about 42.2% of the people of the District. Thus about two out of every five persons are children, who even granted the phenomenon of working children, are dependent on others for their needs.

The young people aged 15-19 years are about 8.8% of the District’s population. When these are added to the population below 15 years then we have a little over half of the District population (51.0%) below 20 years which shows a very youthful population.  The population aged 65 years and above constitutes the smallest cohort (6.3%) and is a reflection of the age structure of the population of the District.

The economically active population (i.e. 15-64 age cohorts) is about 51.5%.  The Dependency ratio of the District is thus estimated at 51.5: 48.5 or 1:0.94.  The implication is that every economically active person in the District takes care of him/her self and about 94% of the needs of one other person. However, considering the fact that several people in the productive age group may be unemployed or underemployed, the real dependency ratio of the district could be higher.

The high proportion of the 15-64 -year old also shows that the District has a potentially large and youthful workforce especially in the age group 15-39 years (32.6%) which if properly managed can become a great economic asset. The private informal sector, especially agriculture and small-scale industries, is the largest source of employment in the District. This sector therefore needs to be modernized and injected with capital and technical expertise to enable it diversify its scope of activities to absorb the large number of potential job seekers.

The Table shows that in year 2000 there were some 1,739 children less than 1 year old in the Builsa District and this represented 2.32% of the total population in that year.  The under pre-school age group (0-2years) was 8.63% or 6,457 whilst the pre-school age (3-5 years) was 10.05% or 7,524 children.

The Basic School age group (6-15 years) constituted 27.77% or a total of 20,787 children. With the new Government policy of Education for All (EFA) children from age 3 –15 years, it means the real school age population of the District is about 28,311 representing 37.82% of the total population.

When a child is defined as a person 0-18 years as specified in the 1992 National Constitution and the Children’s Act, etc, then Table 1.2 indicates that in year 2000, there were 38,533, children in the District and this represented 51.47% or a little over half of the total District population.

The women in the fertile age group (WIFA) i.e. 15-49 years were about 17,259 in 2000 and this represented 23.06% or a little less than one-quarter of the District’s population.  This category of women conventionally bears children and therefore makes demand on the maternal and childcare services and health facilities of the district.


The 2000 National Population and Housing Census reported a total national population of 18,912, 079.  Out of this total 17,436,937 people representing 92.2% were Ghanaians by birth with the remaining 7.8% being foreign nationals. Of the 17,436,937 people born in Ghana, 118,709 were Builsa and this figure represented 0.7% Ghanaians by birth reported by the census.

The Table 2.0 below shows the distribution of Builsa’s by Regions of residence in Ghana.  The Table indicates that of the total 118,709 Builsa’s by birth, 64,603 of them, representing 54.4% live in the Upper East Region.  Most of these people live in their own home district, Builsa. The remaining 45.6% of Builsa’s, totaling 54,106 people live outside their traditional home in the Upper East Region.

It is observed from Table 2.2 that there is preponderance of Builsa migrants in the Ashanti Region (15,394 or 13%) and Greater Accra Region (13,385 of 11.3%). The other regions with high concentration of Builsas’ are Northern Region (8,905), Eastern Region (5,072), Brong-Ahafo Region (4,426) and Western Region (4,131).

It is important to note that most of these Builsa migrants fall within the economically active age group 15 years – 64years and they migrate outside their home district to look for employment in various economic activities ranging from Farming, Administrative/Professional work, Clerical Jobs, Artisan, Trading, including Hawking, etc. 

Distribution Of Population By Religion And Ethnic Groups

The dominant mode of worship is the Traditional African Religion, which makes up 46.41% of the population followed by the Christian Religion, 28.32%, Moslems 22.54%, with the rest constituting a small minority of about 2.7% of the total population. (Ref. Table2.1)
In terms of ethnic composition the District can be said to be a homogeneous one.  The Builsa’s constitute about 83% of the entire population.  The remaining 17% is made up of minority groups comprising the Kantosi, Mamprusi, Sissala, Nankani and Mossi.

Rural/Urban Split: Level Of Urbanization:

The District has 155 communities clustered into 8 zones, namely:
(1)Sandema, (2) Chuchuliga, (3) Wiaga, (4) Siniensi/Doninga/Bachonsa, (5) Kadema
(6) Gbedema/Kanjarga,  (7) Chansa/Gobsa, (8) Fumbisi /Gbedembilisi/Wiesi/Uwasi.

The 2000 National Population and Housing Census reports that Sandema, the District Capital has the largest population of 4,459, followed by Fumbisi with 1,884 inhabitants. The remaining communities have less than 1,500 inhabitants each. By definition therefore there is no settlement in the Builsa North Municipal that has an urban status (urban community being a settlement with 5000 or more inhabitants). The District is thus purely rural.

Distribution Of Households By Size:

The average household size of the District is 5.15 persons and this compares favourably with the National figure of 5.1 persons for Rural Savanna areas. The Household sizes in the relatively larger communities are smaller e.g. Sandema 4.3, Fumbisi 4.4 and Wiaga 4.1 persons per household.

Implications Of The Municipality Demographic Characteristics For Development:

The analyses so far indicate that the District’s population is growing at a relatively slow rate of 0.82% p.a.  This steady growth rate is the result of the lowering, but still high fertility, stable, fairly low mortality, and net out-migration. This slow growth rate can have negative impact on the provision and distribution of social and technical infrastructure/facilities in that the threshold population in most settlements is unable to support higher order services.

The situation becomes even more difficult when one considers the rural and highly dispersed nature of settlements, which increases the unit cost of investment per facility.  This means most people have to travel long distances outside the district to Navrongo, Bolgatanga, etc, to consume high order facilities like Telecommunication, expedited mail services, hotel facilities, some aspects of banking services, etc.

Besides the fragile savanna vegetation does not allow for high population growth and pressure on the land. Thus even though the present population density of the District is low compared to other parts of the Upper East Region, this low density must be maintained until such a time that investments in the vast potentials of the District will increase the carrying capacity of the land.

Hence any attempt to increase the rate of growth of the population and the dependency ratio will put pressure on resource utilization to the detriment of savings.

As indicated above the District has an area of 2220sq km and constitutes 25.1% of the total land area of the Upper East Region. The topography of the area is undulating and slopes range from 50m to a little over 200m. 

The slopes are gentler in the valleys of the Sissili, Kulpawn and White Volta.  In general the low-lying nature of the land makes greater part of it liable to flooding during copious rains.  Like all areas falling within the savanna zone of the country, the District has only one rainy season, which builds up gradually from little rains in April to a maximum in August – September and then declines sharply coming to a complete halt in Mid-October when the dry season sets in.  The rains are very torrential and erratic and range between 85mm and 1150mm with irregular dry spells occurring in June or July.
The vegetation of the area is characterized by Savannah Woodland and consists of deciduous, widely spaced fire and drought resistant trees of varying, sizes and density with dispersed cover of perennial grasses and associated herbs.  Through the activities of man the woodland Savannah has been reduced to an open park land where only trees of economic value like baobab, acacia, sheanuts and the dawadawa have been retained with time.  Where the area has been subjected to some protection from cultivation, uncontrolled grazing, and wild fires, the tree vegetation is richer.
Greater part of the soils of the area fall within several associations most of which are ground water laterites developed over granitic formations.  In general a large percentage of the soils covers of the district are poorly drained and intense erosion overtime has contributed to serious reduction in soil depth and thereby to loss of arable land surface. The Causes and Environmental Impact of

Deforestation and Forest Degradation in the Builsa North Municipal.

Deforestation refers to the complete removal of the forest on a forested area and its replacement usually by other forms of land use e.g. Arable and crop agriculture, pastures, and residential land uses.  A less drastic form of interference, leading to an impairment of the ability of the forest to perform some of its functions is referred to as forest degradation.  Together these two processes lead to quantitative and qualitative deterioration in the forest and wildlife resources.


In the Builsa North Municipal, like most parts of the country deforestation results largely from the activities of man and his animals acting through.

  • Clearing of forested lands for agriculture and the shortening of the fallows resulting from increased populations with consequent decrease in available lands, leading to a gradual elimination of tree covers.
  • The use of fire for land clearing, consuming seed in the soil, killing regenerating seedlings and tending to eliminate trees from the landscape.
  • Excessive browsing on seedlings and ligneous vegetation by grazing animals.
  • The cutting of trees and shrubs for fuel wood.  Trees affected by bush fires    and in extreme cases, living trees not recently affected by fire are cut for sale.

As deforestation increases, the effects of the biotic causes are aggravated by a biotic agencies – increased surface winds, excessive insulation, erosion of organic soil consequent vulnerability to slightly lower than normal rainfall or drought.  The World Resources Institute (WRI, 1987) estimates that the current (1981 –85) average annual deforestation rate of Ghana is about1.3% or 22,000 hectares.  According to the Institute the area most seriously affected by deforestation is the Upper East Region with its High Human population density, heavy cultivation and high cattle, sheep and goat population densities


The effects of large scale uncontrolled deforestation is wide-ranging and complex.  Among the most serious environmental consequences are the damage resulting from increased erosion, disturbance to water regimes and in the extreme, desertification – all of which have serious negative effects on food productive capacity and food security. At the micro level, the environmental benefits of trees and forests in reducing wind erosion and stabilizing soils against water erosion and conversely, the negative impacts of large-scale deforestation on erosion are readily demonstrable.

In the Builsa Muncipal in particular, these negative impacts may be seen for example in the silting up of dugouts, drying of boreholes due to lowered water tables, the exposure of the underlying parent rock as in the Chuchuliga Hills, silting of the Red and White Volta river valleys and their tributaries and increasing floods in their basins.
Adu (1972) reports that in the Builsa – Navrongo – Bawku area almost one meter of soil has been removed in the moderately eroded areas.  In severely eroded areas both the A and B soil horizons have been eroded exposing the impervious substratum. UNSO (1985) reports that soil erosion in the High plains and the Volta Basin (within which falls the Builsa North Municipal) is perhaps the single most important issue confronting the country today, as it affects ground water recharge, natural regeneration of vegetation, the productivity of agricultural and livestock systems and hence food production and security and the power generation capacity of the Akosombo Dam with its consequences for industrialization in the country.
It is recorded (World Bank, 1988) that eliminating Savanna forests (like it has been happening in the Builsa North Municipal over the past 50 years) typically increases annual soil losses from less than one ton/ha to more than 100 tons/ha.  Nutrient losses by leaching from unprotected Savanna are estimated to be equal to 14kg/ha/year for nitrogen and potassium alone, which is 40% higher than the current average annual fertilizer application of 10kg/ha in the country.

Deforestation And Desertification

In arid and semi-arid areas, one of the extreme consequences of deforestation and the consequent misuse or over use of the land is desertification. Desertification is a process resulting from the impact of man’s activities and /or climatic change in dry lands, leading to the destruction of or serious reduction in the biological productivity of the land, with consequent reduction in plant biomass, in the lands carrying capacity for livestock, in crop yields and in human well-being and the intensification and extension of desert like conditions.

It is estimated that about 35% of the total land area of Ghana (ie an area of about 83,489km2) is subject to desertification, with the Upper East Region and the eastern parts of the Northern Region (an area of 78,718km2 or 33% of the total land area of the country) facing the most hazard.  The coastal Savanna of the Accra Plains constitutes the remaining area at risk.  The scenario for intensified desertification in the Builsa North Municipal in particular is summarized as follows:

  1. Low carrying capacity of the districts savanna woodland areas arising from relatively low (100-1150mm) and erratic rainfall;
  2. Farming practices relying mainly on re-establishment of natural bush fallow for restoration of soil fertility.
  3. High and increasing human and domesticated animal population densities exerting increasing pressure on the vegetation and soil resource.
  4. Excessively shortened fallows due to increasing populations and consequent demand for land (only about 10% of farmers in the most vulnerable parts of the Upper East Region are estimated to fallow their land for more than one year while a fallow period of 25- 30 years is considered desirable);
  5. Uncontrolled man-made fires occurring at the peak of the dry season, causing intense burn and resulting in consumption of organic matter, reduction of the natural bank of seeds and seedlings, reduction in perennial plants and retrogression in the value of the ecosystem as a source of fuel wood and as protective cover for the soil.
  6. Reduced nutrient cycling through loss of the organic matter, reduction in vegetative cover and deterioration in physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil;
  7. Decreased availability of fuel wood, poles and forest based food sources and other forest products especially near settlements leading to extension of sources of supply, and therefore of areas under intense pressure.
  8. Commercialization of fuel wood encouraging villagers to cut trees affected by fires instead of leaving them to recover, a tendency to harvest living trees and generally increased de-vegetation.

The combined effect of all these factors is deterioration in the productive and protective values of the natural vegetation, increasing soil erosion and degradation in the food production capacity of the soil, greater vulnerability to even slightly less than normal climatic conditions and a general lowering of human welfare. Deforestation is obviously one of the major contributory causes and manifestations of desertification, which is so much threatening the District..

Move To Combat Desertification In The Builsa North Municipal
Reforestation and Tree Planting

Reforestation and Tree Planting constitute one method of halting further progression towards desertification and, less certain, reversing its effects.  Nevertheless as the above scenario shows deforestation is one of a series of complex and inter-linked factors.  Reforestation by itself cannot therefore halt desertification without complementary measures being taken across the whole spectrum of land use.
As far as the role that forests and trees can play in halting desertification and reversing its effects, the scenario shows that reforestation must involve not only the creation of large blocks of tree plantations but also the establishment of small village woodlots and the planting of trees in belts, small scattered groups and individually throughout the land. Tree planting, needs to be accompanied also by appropriate management of the existing forests and woodlands to permit their use without impairing their productive and protective capacity.

Built Environment
Housing Situation In The Builsa North Municpal

Housing cannot be excluded from the list of infrastructure facilities needed for sustained development because urbanization bring along with it housing problems as more people flock into the urban centers. The total number of housing stock in the district is estimated at 6791.With a district population of 75375 people, there are about 11.1 people to a dwelling house. The number of households is 14636 and with an average household size of 5.15 there are about 2.15 households in a house (Source: 2002 Population and Housing Census)

In Builsa, many of the houses are constructed with locally available materials.  About 90% of the housing stock is built with mud with the remaining 10% being built of cement blocks (9%), wood (1.3), land Crete (0.4%), stone (0.2), etc.  The main roofing materials are Thatch (44%), corrugated metal sheets (32.3%), mud (18.4%) and wood (2.8%). (2.8%). Housing floors are mostly constructed of mud/earth (56.7%), cement/concrete (39.1%), stone (1.1), etc.  Besides, 86.7% of occupied houses are self-owned with only 13.3% being rented, rent-free or perching.
Majority of households live in compound houses (55.9%). The rest live in separate houses (18.7%), semi-detached (12.4%), Flats/Apartments (0.9%), Hotel/Hostel (0.5%), Kiosks (0.2%), Tents (0.5%), etc. A major housing problem in the District is the poor quality of houses.  Generally, people lack the financial capacity to build good houses. Presently SSNT has put up a few houses for renting to workers.

There is the need for a programme to embark on accelerated housing delivery and housing improvement. Individuals must be assisted with some form credit to construct
their own houses or improve the quality of existing stocks of housing.

Date Created : 11/20/2017 12:24:49 AM