The Wa East District in the Upper West Region is under-developed and in a state of deprivation almost 15 year after its creation.
The district was carved out of the former Wa District in July 2004, with its capital at Funsi and for all these years the district has been deprived of good roads, infrastructure for offices and social facilities, compelling most of the district offices to be operating from Wa, the regional capital.
The only time that all the officials meet at Funsi is when they have an Assembly General Meeting, which is held in a very dilapidated building.
For instance, the offices of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the District Directorate of Education are in Wa, so residents travel to Wa, which is about 120 kilometres away from Funsi, to process their NHIS cards.
The district has only one senior high school (SHS) situated at Funsi. There is no hospital, but there are four health centres, with inadequate staff.
Although the area is poorly developed, it has vast potential for agriculture with its rich supply of rivers, fertile land—majority of which are still virgin—and good climatic conditions.
It is one of the food producing districts in the region, producing many staples such as yam, cereals, cassava as well as cattle for the region.
The numerous streams and rivers offer opportunities for irrigation, fish farming and a lot of grass land for pasturing.
Wa East is also endowed with rosewood and rock deposits for quarry business.
As a result of labour migration, people from other ethnic groups are commonly found in the district, majority of whom have been absorbed into the main social structure of the natives through marriage.
Poor road network
The scattered and relatively small rural settlements in this vast land, coupled with the poor road network, makes the administration of the district extremely difficult.
Many streams and rivers are not bridged, especially the Kulung River which is a major tributary of the White Volta River.
All the roads linking Funsi are not tarred, making it inaccessible during the rainy season.
To access Funsi, one has to use the Wa-Tumu Highway to a point before branching to Funsi, making the journey twice as long.
For farmers, the effort to move their produce to market centres is an uphill task.
Because of the widespread poverty in the area, the exploitation of the rosewood, shea-nut trees and other economic trees which have been banned is still pervasive.
A Divisional Chief of the Kundungu Traditional Area, Kuoru Bakuli Bakubie, has appealed to the government to increase its investment in the area to improve the standard of living of the people.
He noted that the availability of infrastructure and social amenities would facilitate the movement of goods and people to boost the economic activities of the people in the area and surrounding communities.
This could be attained by building bridges over the rivers along the road, particularly the Kundungu-Baliekpong road, to enable farmers to transport their farm produce to the urban centres.
While commending the government for creating the district, Kuoru Bakubie reiterated the need to urgently provide social amenities including a hospital, electricity and potable water and also improve the road network.
He further called for the establishment of more official and residential accommodation so that all the offices now operating in Wa will move to Funsi to ensure smooth operation and for government workers who are posted to the district to stay there.
By: Daily Graphic