Ghana currently ranks 135 out of 186 countries on the 2013 Human Development Index and is classified as a food-deficit country. The discovery of oil and other positive economic developments led to the country’s classification as a lower-middle income country in 2010, but conditions in the three northern regions do not reflect these national improvements. These three regions account for more than a third of the country’s landmass and display many of the same agro-ecological characteristics found in other Sahelian countries, including poor soil quality, increasingly erratic rains, a single rainy season and recurring floods and droughts. Poverty, seasonal food insecurity and malnutrition rates remain high.
According to the 2012 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis, poverty is the leading cause of food insecurity in northern Ghana. Six out of ten people are poor, compared to just two out of ten in the southern section. The high incidence of poverty in the region is linked to several factors, including occupation and income generating activities of the local population. While nine out of ten households farm, most operate small farms of five acres or less, limiting their production capacity to little more than subsistence levels.
In addition to high levels of poverty, some of the highest malnutrition rates in the country are found in the northern regions. Four out of ten children under the age of five are stunted or chronically malnourished, meaning they will not be able to meet their full growth potential. Three in ten people in the Upper East Region do not have adequate access to food.
Five percent of the population in Ghana, totaling 1.2 million people, is hungry.