The population of the northern region is expected to hit 7 million by 2040 based on the current growth rate of 2.9 percent which is fastest than the national figure of 2.4 percent, the Ghana National Population Council has said.
The region has a total population of 2,468,557 comprising 1,229,887 males, 1,249,574 females (2010 population and housing census) covers geographical area of 70,348 square kilometers with a density of 35.2.
The population of northern region according to the council remained high in the 3 counts of census held in 1984, 2000 and 2010. It increased from 1,164,583 to 1,820,806 and to 2,468,557 respectively, the demographic profile has shown. The growth rate, it said, has increased persistently from 2.8million in 2000 to 2.9million in 2010.
In 1960 the northern region recorded a population of 531,573 and by 2010 the figure rose to 2,479,461. In a span of 50 years, the population quadrupled by 947,888.
The council described the current growth rate in region as rapid and by the end of 2018 will be estimated at 2,993,554.
The teenage pregnancy and motherhood the council said, is a major issue in the region with 2.2% of women age 15-19 pregnant with their first child while the median age at first marriage is 18.7, the lowest in the country. According to the 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS), out that of the number, 10.1% of women in the region have begun child bearing.
Again, out of the total population of 317.160 belonging to the age group 12-17,27, 223 were already married constituting 8.6% of the population, Housing Census (PHC 2010) indicates.
The fertility rate in the northern region remained high according to the Council. Current fertility rate is 6.6, higher than the national figure of 4.2 representing 2.4% with the wanted fertility rate being 6.2.
The northern region, the national population council said, has the highest fertility rate with a contraceptive prevalence of 10.8 percent against the national figure of 22.2 percent
Northern Regional Population Officer, Alhaji Issifu Seidu Iddi disclosed this to Zaa News during the celebration of this year’s world population day which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 1986 conference on human rights, where family planning was for the first time, globally affirmed to be a human right.
Alhaji Iddi said the region has the highest unmet needs for family planning of 27.8 percent and the least in terms of met needs of 11.2 percent
He attributed the huge developmental challenges confronting the north largely to the lack of family planning which he said is responsible for the high growth of population and myriad of problems.
The Council has suggested to government to consider family as a human rights issue if the country wants to manage its population growth. It is also of the view that incorporating family planning policies and care of fulfillment of the elements of rights to health, government should make family planning services available, accessible and of good quality.
The population council says the rate at which the region's population is rising makes it important to make family planning a household name in the region and in Ghana as a whole.
The council is worried that in spite of successive governments' efforts at bringing economic development and improvement in the quality of life of the people, Ghana is still challenged by population growth.