Nearly 40 per cent of the residents in all the districts except Cape Coast are illiterate. Cape Coast, with the regional capital, has the least proportion of illiterates because it has more educational facilities than the other districts. The situation is such that Cape Coast has more students especially in second cycle schools. However, significant proportions have never been to school.
In addition, relatively high proportions do not attend SHS. This implies that in spite of the fact that the region boasts of some of the best schools in the country and home to two universities, very few people are able to access the facilities. There are more female than male illiterates since the former constitutes less than 50 per cent of the student population. The opportunities exist for people to take advantage of the presence of the numerous schools.
The districts are encouraged to pay greater attention to their education policies. The setting up of educational funds by the District Assemblies and traditional authorities (as some chiefs in other parts of the country have done), would help to improve the situation. Females should be assisted in sourcing the fund when they are set up.
Moreover, there is need for a policy that would allow young mothers to be re-admitted to school to enable them pursue their educational careers. Another way to close the male-female gap in education is for female organisations like the Federation of African Women Educators (FAWE) and others to continue to sensitise parents (especially the uneducated) to become more aware that the girl child is equally important as the boy child. At such fora, female role models from these areas could be presented to these parents to tell their own stories.
One of the major reasons parents have difficulty educating their children is poverty. Parents would therefore prefer sending their children out to work to earn some income for the family. The Government should therefore intensify its efforts at reducing poverty. Since the responsibility of a child’s education rests with both parents, wealth creation programmes should be aimed at both sexes to enable parents educate their children to the highest possible level. In this regard, the efforts of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs are laudable and should be sustained.
Most districts have primary and JHS within 10km from their locality and as such may not have to move long distances to receive some education. With SHS, however, in many districts some schools are at least 31 kilometres from the localities. There is the need for the districts in conjunction with religious bodies to establish more SSS within close distances from localities to improve access to education.
Primary school enrolment is about 77 per cent on the average. Four districts, however, have enrolment rates that are more than 80 per cent. Generally at the primary level, there are more females than males. In the region and for all the districts, however, there are more enrolled males than females. This may imply that in this region, females are not being encouraged to enroled in school. Policy measures therefore have to be put in place to ensure that the higher proportions of females of school going age is reflected in actual enrolment rates.
In the case of secondary school enrolment, it is only Cape Coast that has 30 per cent enrolment for males. Female enrolment is even lower, the average being 15.6 percent, with all districts apart from Cape Coast having similar percentages. This should be a cause for concern because education is an important factor in national development and the influence and benefits of education do not begin to show until after the secondary school level.
Unemployment is more of a problem in Mfantsiman, Cape Coast and Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem than in the other districts. Females in the districts are more likely to be unemployed than their male counterparts. In addition, the distribution of the unemployed affects mostly the 25-44 years age group in all districts. Different strategies should be used in addressing the issue of unemployment because of the age-sex differentials.
Very young children instead of being in the classroom are engaged in economic activities and this should be a cause for concern for all stakeholders. Many children aged 7-14 years are engaged in one form of activity or another. The data show that about 4.0 per cent are employed and an additional 13.6 per cent of this age group are looking for work. The establishment of micro-financing projects for the women especially, is likely to make them put their children in schools instead of sending them to the job market.
In addition, establishing more apprenticeship training centres especially for the females will go a long way in solving the problem. Those in the small-scale enterprises should also be encouraged to team up and pool their resources together to expand and create more employment opportunities.
Occupation And Industry
Agriculture and related work (this includes animal husbandry, forestry, fishing and hunting) is the predominant occupation in all the districts apart from Cape Coast. The agricultural sector employs between a third and two-thirds of the labour force in all districts, except Cape Coast (9.2%). The pattern is not different for the sexes except that manufacturing is second to agriculture for males, while wholesale/retail trade comes second to agriculture for females. This is not different from what pertains at the national level, as Ghana is predominantly an agricultural country. With income levels generally low in the agriculture sector, coupled with a large private informal sector of over 80 per cent in most of the districts, the ability of the districts to use “internally generated funds” for projects is limited.
The potential of the coastal districts to expand and modernise the salt and fishing industries exists in addition to the establishment of agro-processing industries in the forest districts.
Access to electricity in the region is poor. Only Cape Coast and Mfantsiman have over 50 per cent of households enjoying electricity. Assin (18%), Upper Denkyira (29.3%), Twifo-Hemang-Lower Denkyira (32.2%), Gomoa (31.0%) and Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa (27.2%) are the least endowed districts. The private formal sector, which normally requires abundant and cheap supply of electricity, will find it difficult to locate in these districts. There is the need to extend electricity to these districts.
Wood and charcoal constitute about 90 per cent of cooking fuel in all the districts except Cape Coast. The dependence on wood for cooking is likely to have an adverse effect on the already fragile forest resource. Even if some trees are planted it will take a long time to replace them. In addition, it is most unlikely that they will be replaced at the same rate as they are being cut down. Nevertheless, the Forestry Services Division should encourage and assist communities to plant more trees.
For cooking fuel, the promotion of the use of gas and energy saving coal-pots should be intensified and made more accessible especially in the rural areas.
Material For Outer Walls
More than half of households in the region live in houses with walls made of mud/mud-bricks/earth. Seven out of twelve districts have at least 60 per cent of households living in houses with walls made of these materials, except Awutu-Efutu-Senya (62.4%), Cape Coast (60%) and Komenda-Edina- Eguafo-Abirem (54.7%) where over half of households live in houses with concrete walls. This may be due to the fact that concrete/cement is not affordable to many people, particularly in rural areas.
The mud/mud-bricks/bricks also have a short lifespan and are subject to the vagaries of inclement weather. The use of burnt bricks should therefore be encouraged as they are durable and the region has large deposits of clay to sustain the burnt brick industry.
Number of Rooms
About half (49.4%) of the households in the region occupy a single room. It is only in Ajumako- Enyan-Esiam and Assin that the figures are well below 50 per cent. This means that these serve as both bedrooms and living rooms. In addition, about a fifth of the households have two rooms with the exception of Mfantsiman with a figure slightly below 20 per cent.
The average household size is 4.4 and average number of persons per sleeping room is 2.3. This implies that there is marginal overcrowding in the region and many districts. With most households having no more than 2 sleeping rooms, it means that parents and children as well as siblings of mixed sexes may share the same bedroom with consequential loss of privacy. Generally, housing has been provided through individual initiatives, and government organisations, such as the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and the State Housing Corporation.
In recent times, private real estate developers have also been involved in the provision of houses. Low rents and inability to purchase houses outright have made it impossible for the various providers to meet housing needs of the population. There is the need therefore for Government and financial institutions to be more involved than they have been by establishing loan schemes for workers to build their own houses.
The Ministry of Works and Housing, Town and Country Planning, the District Assemblies as well as the Ghana Real Estates Developers Association (GREDA) should team up to provide an estimate of shortfall of houses. In determining housing needs, these bodies must make allowance for the deterioration of the stock of housing, the replacement and the upgrading of existing ones.
Access to Safe Water
Pipe-borne water is enjoyed by only half of the households in the region although as many as 40.6 per cent do not have it at home. This situation is more serious in the following districts: Assin, Twifo- Hemang-Lower Denkyira, Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, and Upper Denkyira. Even in Cape Coast the district with the highest percentage of households. With regards to access to pipe-borne water in their houses, the percentage is only 37.7 per cent. It must also be noted that some households get water from tanker services.
Although these could be included in pipe-borne water they are obtained indirectly. The two districts that benefit most from this source are Gomoa (17.5%) and Awutu-Efutu- Senya (20.9%). Access to good potable water is a pre-requisite to good health, such that in its absence, people are susceptible to water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea and typhoid.
As has been mentioned earlier, even the existing infrastructure for the provision of potable water is totally inadequate to meet the needs of the general public. There is therefore the need for a major expansion and diversification of the sources of potable water.
Nearly 40 per cent of households in the region use public toilets. The situation is similar among the districts with the exception of Assin and Twifo-Hemang-Lower Denkyira where most households use pit latrines. Water closet, which is considered the most modern of toilet facilities, is used by barely 5 per cent of households, mainly in Cape Coast (24.5%).
The absence of toilet facilities has led to the indiscriminate disposal of human waste in many undeveloped plots as well as the desecration of beaches, which are important sources of tourist attraction. This is likely to affect growth in the tourism sector.
Human waste disposal is a very critical issue especially in the urban areas. It is therefore important that Ghana’s housing policy not only state that adequate provision of toilet facilities be made for all houses but must also be enforced. For example, before a building permit is given, the District Assemblies must ensure that adequate provision is made for toilet facilities.
Disposal of Solid And Liquid Waste
Nine out of 10 households in the region dispose of their solid waste either at a public dumpsite or elsewhere. There are 3 main ways of disposing of liquid waste in the region namely; street, gutter and compound. Of these, the street is mainly used. It is used mainly in four districts: Mfantsiman, Gomoa, Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa and Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam where at least 50 per cent of households dispose of their liquid waste. Only two per cent of households in the region have a proper sewerage system. Lack of disposal facilities for both liquid and solid waste added to lackof toilet facilities would hasten the destruction of our environment and also pose health hazards.
On the issue of solid waste disposal, District Assemblies and other bodies charged with waste disposal must ensure efficient collection of solid waste from houses, collection from the designated public dumping sites and proper treatment and processing of the waste material. With regard to liquid waste disposal, it has become difficult for gutters to be constructed at certain residential areas due to the haphazard manner in which houses have been built.
The Town and Country Planning in collaboration with the District Assemblies should ensure that developers adhere to laid down plans for whichever area they intend to develop. The ideal situation may be for places to be well laid out with all utilities in place before any construction takes place. In the long term, there must be a national and regional effort at constructing a sewerage system for the disposal of liquid waste. In the interim, households must be educated against using gutters as the method for waste disposal, and to construct soak-away systems in homes for liquid waste disposal.
There is not much difference in the distribution of post offices and telephone facilities. The availability of telephone facilities are slightly higher than post offices within localities. This may be due to the fact that while no new post offices are being built, telephone facilities are being extended. Although we may still depend on post offices for communicating, the use of the telephone is faster and cheaper and needs to be expanded to reach all communities, as this can reduce human movement and reduce time spent moving about which could be put to some other use. The establishment of ICT centres by districts like Twifo-Hemang-Lower Denkyira is laudable and must be emulated by all the other districts.
The closest source of medical facilities in localities are the traditional ones as almost all of them are within 5 kilometres. This means that it may be the main source of providing primary health care delivery for most districts. Since in the short term, clinics and hospitals cannot be provided for all communities, traditional health providers should be provided regular refresher training and adequately resourced to offer the needed assistance to the communities.
The TFR is lowest in Cape Coast (2.4) and highest in Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa (5.0) and Assin (5.0). Cape Coast is the most urbanised district followed by Awutu-Efutu-Senya and Agona while Twifo- Hemang-Lower Denkyira, Assin, and Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam are the least urbanised. Two in every three (57.1%) persons 15 years and over in the region are literates. There are more literates in Cape Coast (75.1%) than any other district. The district with the least proportion of literates is Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese (45.1%).
There are more male than female literates. While on the average about 70 per cent of males are literates, the percentage for females is 46 per cent. While Cape Coast has the highest percentage of male (83.6%) and female (67.1%) literates, Abura-Asebu- Kwamankese has the lowest for both males (59.0%) and females (34.2%). With the exception of Cape Coast (39.2%), about 50 per cent of adult (15 years and older) males and females are in some form of marital union. In all districts, there are more married females than males.
In the case of divorcees also, there are more females than males in all the districts. About 4 per cent of children aged 7-14 years in the region are engaged in economic activity of one kind or another. Cape Coast has the least proportion of children in employment (1.7%). Nine per cent of the economically active adult population in the region is unemployed. Unemployment is highest in Mfantsiman and lowest in Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam. Generally, there are more female than male unemployed in the districts, except in Gomoa, Agona and Twifo-Hemang-Lower Denkyira.
The two main materials used for roofing are corrugated metal and slate/asbestos. The district in which corrugated sheet is most common is Agona (92.3%) while it is least used in Cape Coast (30.1%). In the case of asbestos, it is most commonly used in Cape Coast (51.2%) and least used in Upper Denkyira (1%). Other notable observations are that access to safe water, adequate toilet facilities and electricity are a big problem in Assin, Twifo-Hemang-Lower Denkyira, Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa and Upper Denkyira. Gas as cooking fuel is mainly used in Cape Coast and to a lesser extent Awutu-Efutu-Senya and Agona. Wood and charcoal continue to be the predominant cooking fuel in all districts.