East Gonja District is located at the South-eastern section of the Northern Region of Ghana. The district lies between Lat. 8oN & 9.29oN and, Long. 0.29E & 1.26oW. It shares boundaries with Yendi and Tamale districts to the North, Central Gonja District to the West, Nanumba-North and Nanumba-South Districts to the East, and the Brong Ahafo Regions to the South.
The total land area of the district is 10,787 sq kilometres, occupying about 15.3% of the landmass of the Northern Region. The district comes first in terms of land area (size) among the districts of the Northern Region. The location of the district in both the national and regional contexts is presented in maps one and two below.
The East Gonja District lies in the Tropical Continental climatic zone with the mid-day sun always overhead. As result, temperatures are fairly high ranging between 29oC and 40oC. Maximum temperature is usually recorded in April, towards the end of the dry season.
Minimum temperatures are also recorded around December-January, during the Harmattan period. Just like any part of West Africa, the district comes under the influence of the wet South-West Monsoon and the dry North-East Trades winds which are associated with the rainy season and the dry harmattan conditions respectively.
The rainfall pattern in East Gonja is characterized by irregularity and variability in terms of timing of onset, duration and total amount of rainfall, which has been the key limiting factor affecting crop production in the district. However, the district has one main rainy season which is sufficient to support and sustain plant life. The total annual rainfall ranges between 1112.7mm to 1734.6mm.
Rain Fall Figures
The natural vegetation in the district is the Guinea Savannah Woodland, which has evolved from climatic conditions and modified substantially by human activities. There are few grooves, which have been preserved over the years.
The tree cover is relatively dense, compared to the rest of the Northern Region. However, intensive harvesting of the trees for fuel wood and charcoal burning, and also activities of the Fulani herdsmen is fast reducing the tree cover, particularly in areas close to the Tamale and the Abrumase areas close to the Pru district in the Brong Ahafo region.
The tree cover consists of semi-deciduous trees such as oil palm trees; raffia palm; Acacia; Shea-nut trees; Dawadawa trees among others. In addition, high grasses that characterized savannah areas extensively spread throughout the district. A large number of both plant and animal species inhabit the natural environment.
A number of Grooves are also found all over the district, which have been preserved over the years and which also constitute part of the natural environment.
At the extreme southeast, the vegetation is dense and some semi-deciduous trees such as oil palm trees, raffia palm and others can be found there.
The district has a number of large water bodies that flow throughout the district. These include the Volta Lake and the Dakar River both of which run across the district. A number of streams, dams, valleys, hills and mountain are also found at various locations in the district, as part of the natural environment.
The confluence of the Volta and some of its major tributes including the White Volta and the Dakar River are found in the district. There is good flow of water from these rivers, which are collected and stored in the Volta Lake. This provides the potentials for water transport, irrigation development and fishing activities.
The soils in the district are classified into three major grouping. These include:
- Alluvial soils classified as Glysols, which is found around the Volta Lake, particularly in the drawn-down zone of the Volta Lake, in the dry season. The soils along the Lake are medium textured and moderately well drained in parts. The soil is potentially fertile.
- The bulk of the district is covered by ground water laterites, developed mainly from Voltaian Sandstone materials, highly concretionally with frequent exposures of iron pan and boulders. There are, however, deeper and slightly better soils in some locations, which could support shifting cultivation patterns. Any development should include maintenance of vegetation cover to prevent soil erosion.
- The other major soil group is the relatively fertile Savannah Ochrosols. This soil group is moderately well drained with good water retention. It occupies the Northern tip of the district bordering Tamale district and the south-eastern section of the district.
The East Gonja District is linked to the adjoining districts and regions by a number of major trunk roads. These include the Tamale-Makango road, Salaga-Bimbilla road, Bimbilla-Kpandai road and Salaga-Kpandai road. In addition, there are a large number of feeder roads linking the main marketing centres with their rural hinterlands.
The road network is generally good but the conditions of most of the roads are poor. There is also large number of access roads that needs to be developed to further open the district.
On feeder roads, the total network in the district is 612.2km out of which 435.6km is engineered and 135.10km partially engineered. The un-engineered network is 45.50.4km.
The district lies at the confluence of the Volta and some of its major tributes including the White Volta and the Daka River. There is good flow of water from these rivers, which are collected and stored in the Volta Lake. This provides the potentials for water transport, irrigation development and fishing activities.
East Gonja also has an airstrip located at Nkwanta near Salaga that support some level of air transport including helicopter and Fokker 8 to the District.