Ghana’s economy has improved since the 1990s. Its GDP doubled to US$712 in 2008 and poverty has been halved to 29 percent at the national level. However, there are huge gaps between the northern and southern sections of the country. Ghana’s three most deprived northern regions have very high levels of poverty, hunger and malnutrition.
Eighty percent of the poor live in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions. Thirty-six percent of children under five in the Upper East Region suffer from chronic malnutrition and 34 percent of the people in the Upper West Region are food insecure.
The climate and vegetation in northern Ghana is similar to that of Sahelian countries. Most people farm for a living and yet farmers have to contend with a single, increasingly erratic rainy season which lasts from June to November. In addition, weather patterns have changed over the years. The rainy season has become much shorter and flooding more common. Almost every year, floods submerge large tracts of cultivated farm lands, wash away food stocks and crumble homes, leaving people hungry and destitute. Between 2007 and 2009, the three northern regions were severely affected by floods and droughts, high food prices and the global financial crises. These crises have further worsened the plight of poor hungry people living in this area.
For the past two decades, Ghana has been home to refugees from other West African countries who settled here when civil strife and political unrest broke out in their countries. Some 17,000 Ivorian refugees moved into towns in the western parts of Ghana after post-election disputes erupted in Cote D’Ivoire in December 2010.