Structure Of The Local Economy
Labour Participation Economically Active And Non-Active Population

The potential workforce of the district derives from its adult population that is available and able to work.  In the Builsa District, like in most societies, however, there is room for those outside of the legally defined age group (15-64years) to engage in lawful activities for themselves or their families.  Again there is enough evidence in the district like in most parts of the country that children as young as 7 years do engage in family enterprises, while retired persons also engage in active economic pursuits.

The population of interest therefore covers those aged at least 7 years at the time of the census.  Table 2.3.1 compares the situation of the economically active and non-active population of the District with that of the Upper East Region as reported by the 2000 National Population and Housing Census.

This figure represented 78% of the District population.  Of this category of people the census reports that 35,194 were economically active.  Again of this group, 23,446 people actually worked between 1-7days for pay a week before the census.  A smaller number, 4,365 people, had job but did not work one week before the census, possibly because they were on leave or sick, etc.  Of much significance is the 7,383 people in the economically active group who were unemployed, meaning though these people were fit to work, they had no jobs and were actively looking for work at the time of the census.  The unemployed represents 21% of the economically active labour force of the District.

Of this Group, 6,490 were people who engaged in household duties without pay (i.e. Homemakers).  Another 9,485 or about 40% were students.  These students at the time of the census were pursuing educational career or schooling, which are not economic at the material time and are therefore properly excluded from those the district can count on for production of goods and services.  They are properly referred to as economically non-active.

It is observed from the table that the District has about 3,229-aged population and 551 retired persons. The physically disabled people who do not work because of their condition are about 510 or 2.15% of the economically non-active population.  All other categories of the economically non-active population in the district are about 4218.

Recent studies in the poverty situation in Ghana reveals that the Upper East Region made up of Six districts including Builsa is the most deprived in the Country.  Statistics from these studies indicate that for the Country as a whole, whilst overall poverty decreased between 1991/92 and 1998/99 from 51.7% to 39.5% and extreme poverty also declined from 36.5% to 26.8% over the same period, Upper East Region, including Builsa experienced increases in poverty and extreme poverty in the 1990s.  (GSS, 2000: Poverty trends in the 1990s also quoted in the GPRS, Feb 2002 PP 10-11). 

Comparative analysis between rural and urban areas in the Upper East Region reveals that in general, people in the rural areas experience more abject poverty than their urban folks and this tend to suggest that Builsa being a purely rural district seems to have more serious poverty incidence than most other districts in the Region.  In Builsa, the Poverty Trends Analysis reports that 9 out of every 10 people are classified as poor with average 1999 Standard of living of ¢562,700.00.  In terms of economic activity, poverty is by far highest among food crop farmers who constitute not less than 90% of those in gainful employment in the district.

Household Expenditure

In Builsa, like in other parts of the Upper East Region, it is estimated that the average household expenditure and mean annual per capita expenditure are respectively ¢1,793,000.00 and ¢399,000.00 as compared to national averages of ¢4,244,000.00 and ¢487,000.00 in that order.  The studies indicate that these mean annual household and per capita expenditures are about the lowest among all regions of the country. (GSS-GLSS4, PP.84-85, October 2000) (Exch. Rate March 1999 US$1 =¢2,394.00).  There are striking disparities in household and per capita expenditure levels among urban and rural dwellers in the district, indicating that poverty situations are more entrenched among the rural folks than their urban counterparts.

Components Of Household Expenditure

Out of the mean annual household expenditure of ¢1.79m, it is estimated that 55% represents expenditure on food (45% in cash and 10% for consumption of own produced food); exactly 2% is accounted for by housing costs.  The remaining 42% of total expenditure represents other non-food expenditure (36% in cash and 6% for the imputed value of non-food items used by households). Expenditure on medical care and health constitutes only about 4.6% of the mean annual household spending of ¢1.79m.

The implication of this is that people in the district spend not less than 95.4% of their total annual income on such needs as food, clothing, housing and utilities, transport and communications, education, recreation, other household goods, and some miscellaneous goods and services. It is in fact estimated that some 60,000 people representing 79.6% of the district’s population live in extreme poverty with average welfare of ¢562,700.00 p.a. at 1999 income levels.

This implies that these peoples standard of living is insufficient to meet their basic nutritional requirements even if they devoted their entire consumption budget to food (calculations from data presented in the “Poverty Trends in Ghana in the 1990s”, GSS, October 2000).  Hence in the face of rising economic hardships and deepening poverty especially among the rural population, the tendency is for people to switch larger proportions of household income to meet other needs to the detriment of basic health services.  

The health of the people then suffers and in a situation where people have to make out-of –pocket payments for essential health care delivered by a Health Institution as pertains under the present Cash & Carry System, then it must be noted that a lot more people in the district are crowded out of basic health care under the National Health System.  The Scenario looks even gloomier when one considers the current rising trends in the prices of drugs and medical supplies.  For instance the WHO estimates that between 40% and 60% of the over 18million people of Ghana have no access to safe drugs mostly because of cost factors.

Disparities By Gender

Poverty in the Builsa District, like in other parts of Ghana has important gender dimensions and requires focused attention. .  The incidence of poverty is even more striking among the women who constitute about 52% of the district population.

The women have heavier time burdens, lower rates of utilization of productive resources and lower literacy rates. Disparities with respect to access to, and control of a range of assets such as land, credit, education levels, legal rights and protection are all skewed against women and children in the District. Gender disparities exist with respect to access to and control of a range of assets including direct productive assets such as land and credit, human and Social Capital assets such as participation at various levels of decision making, legal rights and protection.

Socio- cultural factors and practices such as early betrothals, widowhood rights and funeral arrangements, inheritance system, etc continue to perpetuate the gender inequities in access to and use of services and tend to entrench poverty incidence among women.  Also inequitable allocation of food within the household, leads to malnutrition among women and children.  Again gender-based violence has important health, economic and political implications.

Statistics indicate that HIV prevalence rate is higher among women than men in the age group 15-24years.  Thus the risk factors and vulnerability are greater in women than in men and this give serious implications for care, treatment and for addressing the needs of AIDS orphans, which falls disproportionately on women.

Gender differences also exist with regards to Women and Men’s legal status and also in their rights and protection under the law.  In particular, women’s decision-making choices at the community and household levels in the rural areas are constrained by cultural taboos and resistance from men and this tend to further entrench their poverty situation.
Financial Institutions


Banking & Financial Institutions

The Builsa District has only one rural bank, Builsa Community Bank. The main function of the bank is to mobilize financial assets for investment and development of the District.

In addition to these traditional functions, the bank is presently managing the District Assembly’s fund for Productivity and Income Generative Activities (Poverty Alleviation Fund), the LACOSREP and UNICEF micro credit schemes.

It receives and processes all credit applications for approval by the District Assembly or MOFA/LACOSREP Credit management committee, and manages both credit delivery and recovery. 

Through this credit management facility, the Bank is helping to generate employment opportunities for a large number of unemployed youth, women and other vulnerable groups in the District.

The BUCOBANK is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that modern banking and financial services is brought to the doorstep of the people of the Builsa district. A new ultra modern banking complex being constructed by the bank is more than 97% complete. This complex would have modern banking installations making use of ICT systems and automations.

Investment and Business Potential


The district has been endowed with very rich natural and human resources. Preliminary work carried out in the district indicates that Builsa abounds in large quantities of several mineral deposits including gold, chromite, rutile, jasper, talc, lime, feldspar, nepheline, syenite and various types of clay. In particular, clay is found around Wiaga, Sandema and Fumbisi. These deposits could be exploited for the development of the pottery, ceramics and paint industries. Bricks and tiles projects also have potentials in the district and a wide range of brick products such as building bricks, vitrified enamel bricks and floor tiles could be produced.

Various quantities of gold deposits have been discovered in areas around Kaema and Chansa, which are currently being explored by a company known as SAMAX. Bachonsa and its surrounding areas are also reported to have some gold deposits. There are excellent exposures of granitic rocks in several parts of the district around Chuchuliga.

These can easily be quarried for use as road metals and as building stones. Some of these rocks have fine crevices and can be shaped into ornamental and design blocks for use in housing construction. Detailed exploratory work, including mineralogical tests are being planned to determine the actual quality and quantity of mineral deposits available for industrial use in the district.

Smock weaving has a long tradition in the area and can be promoted in the major settlements of the Builsa District through credit support for small scale informal producers, large scale cotton cultivation and the acquisition of textile inputs like borad loom and vanes. The weaving of straw or grass for mats, bags and baskets also has a long history in the area and the district in fact, has a comparative cost advantage due to the abundance of the raw material base and well-established weaving skills.

Tanning and leather ware is another promising small scale industrial activity in the area due to the district’s great potential in cattle and hide production. Builsa District produces large quantities of both sheanuts and groundnuts, most of which are exported in the raw state with only small quantities processed into oil using crude methods.

Large scale processing of the nuts would yeild high value-added from the products and meet the existing high market demand for edible oil both in the outside the country. This industry also has a strong linkage effect with the cosmetic and soap industries. The district has 17 dams and dug-outs, which are used, in part, for dry season vegetable production.

Fumbisi Rice Valleys

The well-known Fumbisi valleys consist of a vast tract of land that stretches from southern Fumbisi and Uwasi to Wiesi and Gbedembilisi at the confluence of the Sissili and Kulpawn rivers.  The zone has mostly alluvia soils developed from recent and old alluvium of mixed origin as well as those developed on very old river terraces.

Tanchera Association of soils developed on parent granite and Volta-lima, developed on Voltaian shale are also found in the area. These groups of soils are the best agricultural lands of the district and are suitable for mechanized farming and cultivation of a wide range of arable crops.  It has the potential of offering land for large-scale rice farming and it is believed that about a third of the total rice produced in the country is from the valleys. There are two of such fields in the district, namely; the Gbedembilisi rice fields and the Wiesi rice fields.

Gbedembilisi Rice Valley

It is one of the largest rain-fed rice valleys in the country covering a total land area of over 900 acres. In 2008, about 715.5 acres of rice field was cultivated by 623 farmers resulting in a yield of 5837 metric tons of rice. This high production is against the backdrop that these fields lack modern facilities for yield improvement and post harvest management.

The Gbedembilisi field is the larger of the two fields, covering a total land area of over This field holds a tremendous economic potential and a strategic investor is urgently needed to ensure that the enormous potential held by this field is fully maximised. There exists a high demand for quality rice both locally and internationally. The bran produced as a by-product of rice milling is also in high demand for the buoyant livestock industry locally and nationally. The district Assembly through the district MOFA offices is ready to embrace prospective investors to tap this resource for mutual benefit.

The potential of this resource include the following

  • Employment creation
  • Income generation
  • Foreign exchange

Wiesi Rice Fields

Wiesi is about 39km from Sandema. The Wiesi Rice fields is the smaller of the two rice valleys in the district. It has about 412 acre total cultivated land area and just like the Gbedembilisi fields, this field is normally cultivated by groups of farmers. In 2007, there was no rice cultivation in the field due to flooding. A comprehensive drainage system would solve this issue of flooding.

Livestock and Poultry Development

The Climate and Vegetation of the Builsa District favours Livestock Production. As stated earlier, livestock and poultry production has been practiced by Builsans for a very long time. The climate and vegetation supports the high production of livestock and poultry. There exist large tracts of land that could be used to cultivate animal’s feed. Also, feeding could be obtained from residue of rice milling and the leaves of Sorghum.

The district produces huge amounts of livestock especially, cattle, sheep and goats. On market days, traders from south come and buy many of the district’s livestock. The citing of a commercial livestock farm to produce meat and milk for local consumption and export would be very viable. There is also a national demand for poultry products. Chickens, guinea fowls and ducks have been the most popular poultry produced in the district.

Dry season irrigation gardening for vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, pepper and garden eggs has great potentials. Buils District’s environment is very conducive for cattle, donkey, sheep, goat, guinea fowl and ordinary poultry rearing, because of comparative cost advantages, which guarantee high returns on investment. The district offers fertile land for large scale rice farming and the District Assembly is working hard to promote private production. In 1998 alone, I voted ¢24 million to assist farmers in the district to cultivate rice and this has yielded very good returns.

Gold Exploration

Varied quantities of gold deposits have been discovered in areas around Kandema and Chansa.  It is reported that the gold deposits occur within the Bianya Association of soils in the area and are found in a seam of quartz gravel and stones embedded in 30cm of iron and manganese concretion in the sub-soil. From 2005, Rangold Resources Limited of the United Kingdom has been carrying out exploratory activities in the Builsa District. The Company has acquired an area of 886.05 sq. Km of the total land area of the District for gold prospecting and an early report indicates quite a high success rate. Bachonsa and its surrounding areas were also reported to have some amount of gold deposits. This has increased ‘galamsey’ activities in these areas.

Quarry Stone

Granite constitutes the dominant geological formation in the District and covers over 70% (approx. 153, 300 ha) of the land area. Excellent exposures of granitic rocks are found in the northern parts of the district, stretching from Chuchuliga zone across Sandema to Bachonsa area.  These rocks can easily be quarried for road and housing construction. Some of these rocks have fine crevices and can be shaped into ornamental and design blocks. It is important to note that a detailed mineralogical test is required to establish the actual quantity and quality of the various mineral deposits in the district for industrial use.

Clay Development

It is known that several of the Soil Associations found in the district have large quantities of good quality clay deposits.  In particular, the Pusiga Association of soils found in and around Wiaga has large amounts of fine, sandy clays at depths of 30-35cm below the topsoil up to over 120cm of the sub-soil.  Clay is also found in Sandema, Fumbisi, Kadema and Gbedembilisi. These clay deposits can be exploited for the development of the pottery, ceramics and paint industries.  Bricks and Tiles projects also have potential in the District and a wide range of brick products such as building bricks; vitrified enamel bricks and floor tiles could be produced from the kind of clay we have here.



Date Created : 11/20/2017 1:00:47 AM