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Know your region – Upper East Region


                                               Economy and Tourism
The region’s economy is based on agriculture, primarily cattle and cereals like millet, sorghum and rice. The region is also known for its handicrafts and a locally brewed beer known as Pito. The market at Bolga has a long history. The ancient trans-Saharan trade routes from Mali, which passed through Burkina Faso, was joined in Bolga by a second route, from northern Nigeria through Bawku, and continues down to Tamale and southern Ghana. At the Bolga market, visitors can buy straw hats, baskets, leather goods, metal goods, and traditional clothing.
The main occupations in the region in order of magnitude are, agriculture and related work (65.9%), production and transport equipment work (14.5%), sales work (9.5%) service work (3.9%), and professional, technical and related work 3.8 per cent. The five together make up 97.6 per cent of all occupations. The occupational structure of the region is thus not very diverse.
The substantial lack of formal sector, office based bureaucratic activities in the region is reflected in the fact that only 1.7 per cent of the economically active are engaged in administrative, managerial, clerical and related work. About two out of every three are in agriculture (66.4%).
The rank order of the five occupations is same for males and females. The proportion of females in sales work (13.3%) is twice that of males (5.8%). The proportion of males in agriculture is 71.8 per cent compared with 61.2 per cent females.
A total of 69,094 children of school going aged 7-14 years are reported to be working fulltime. The majority (54.5%) of them are boys. The number of children working represents a little over one in three (34.0%) of the total population aged 7-14 years. The proportion of males of school going age who are working is 35.3 per cent and that of females is 32.7 percent.
The fact that children at these ages are already gainfully employed is a reflection of the extent of child labour in the region. Almost all of these children are engaged in agriculture (77.9%), production and transport equipment (9%), service work (8%) and sales work (4.4%).
The working children are almost entirely in the private informal sector and are either selfemployed without employees (63.1%) or are unpaid family workers (29.8%); about five per cent are employees. Contrary to the popular perception that children are used as househelp, child domestic employees make up only 3 per cent while other employees make up 1.7 percent.
As in other parts of Ghana, colonialism and slave trade are part of the history of the Upper East Region. The area offers insight into this history through guided tours and visits to former slave camps. In Widnaba, a visitor can enter a hollow baobab tree in which potential slaves were held captive. In Paga Nania, 3 km west of Paga, is a slave transit camp and relics of the slave trade. From the 16th century when slaves became a dominant item of trade, Nania became the first stopover and auction market for slaves captured in Mossi and surrounding lands.
The market was in a rocky area referred to as “Pinkworo” (Rocks of Fear). Still evident today is the rock outcrop that was used as an observation post by the raiders, water troughs formed in the rocks from which slaves drank, grinding stones and indents in the rocks, where slaves ground cereals for food.
One unique site in the region is the Tongo Whistling Rocks. Located 6 miles (10 km.) from Bolgatanga, these granite rocks jut dramatically from the terrain. The rocks also make strange whistling sounds during November and December, when the harmattan wind blows off the Sahara through the Northern Region.
The region also plays host to many festivals throughout the year. Most festivals are either to bring a good planting season or celebrate the harvest. Festivals include the Gologo Festival, celebrated in March by the Talensis of Tong-Zug just before the planting of grain, and the Fao Festival, held between November and March in the Page/Chiana and Kayoro Traditional Areas as a thanksgiving offering for good harvest.

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