Navrongo and Lawra Fact Sheet
The two Upper Regions, Upper East and Upper West, have had their borders redrawn twice since Ghanaian Independence from Great Britain in 1957. At Independence, they were both part of the Northern Territories, a vast
region which covered the northern half of the country. To ease the administrative burden on the Northern Region therefore, an Upper Region was created out of the Northern Region to coincide with Ghana's attainment of Republican status on 1st July 1960. In 1983 the Upper Region was sub-divided into the Upper East and Upper West regions, again for administrative convenience.
The Upper East Region is one of the smallest in the country, larger only than the Greater Accra Region. Its administrative capital is Bolgatanga, and other important towns are Bawku, Zuarungu, Zebilla, Sandema, and of course, Navrongo.
The Upper West Region, while created by the Ghanaian Government in 1983, was formally inaugurated in 1987. It is fast bridging the development gap between it and the rest of the country. The economy is mainly agricultural with high potential for animal, cotton, sheanut, and grain production. The administrative capital is Wa, which has a very beautiful mosque. The Wa chief, the Wa Na, also has an attractive palace. One can also tour the Gbede Game Production Reserve to the north of Wa. Other important towns Nandom, Tumu, Jirapa, and of course, Lawra.
The rural populations around Lawra and Navrongo live in settlements which consist of compounds made primarily of mud and thatch. They are both district capitals with approximately 10,000 people.
Navrongo is the district capital of the Kassena-Nankani District which has a population estimated at 175,000 with the majority of the people living in rural dispersed villages. The people of the Kassena-Nankana District belong to the Mole-Dagbani cultural groups, one of the major ethnolinguistic groups of the northern regions of Ghana and neighboring Burkina Faso. In this sense, the Kassena-Nankana are more closely related to the cultures of neighboring Sahelian countries than of peoples of coastal Ghanaian regions. About 51 percent of the district's population speaks Nankam, 47 percent speaks Kassim, and the balance speaks mainly Buili. Although these languages differ, these cultural groups share common customs of religion, lineage, marriage, and family structure. Although Kassena and Nankana ritual practices differ somewhat, similarities outweigh differences.
Both towns enjoy a few of the creature comforts you on the other end of the terminal are familiar with. Navrongo has 24 hr electricity from the country's main source of power, the Akosombo dam near the capital city of Accra. Lawra's power is periodic and comes from diesel generators. Water is a precious commodity in the North of Ghana. Both towns have some access to running water (however sporadic) but those immediately outside the town must pump their water from boreholes by hand. Most people travel by foot or bicycle. The main bicycle sold is the Chinese made Phoenix. It is aptly named as this one-speed 40 pound hulk of steel often dies and is reborn again and again in the hands of one of the numerous bike repair shops around town.
As October rolls around and the Dry season starts, the temperatures drop from the high 90's down to the mid 80's. The clouds disappear from the sky and the relative humidity drops to 10%! Even more dramatic is the dusty wind off of the Sahara called the Harmattan. It coats everything not moving too quickly with a thin layer of white dust. On particularly bad days visibility is reduced to 100 meters and the usually unforgiving Sun is simply a whitish haze in the sky.
By March the Harmattan dies down and the Sun is directly overhead. Temperatures can easily reach 110 °F and life slows to a crawl. In the mid-day heat everyone finds their favorite shade (usually a mango tree which also happens to be bearing fruit this time of the year) and tries not to move to much. When the first rain falls and softens the hard, desiccated earth, people start getting ready for a new farming season and the cycle continues.
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