The Volta Basin has an estimated population of approximately 20 million people. The population of the Basin is young. The major portion of the basin population falls into the working age group (15-64 years). The Basins population is largely rural (between 56% and 83%). The population density varies considerably. Ghana (87 persons/km2) and Togo (86 persons/km2) are most densely populated, while the population density of Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, and Benin ranges between 40 and 60 persons/km2. Mali is the least densely populated country (9 persons/km2).
The countries of the Volta Basin are among the fastest growing populations in the world between 1.8 and 3.0% for all riparian countries). It is estimated that over the next 40 years, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali will more than double their populations, while all other countries will experience an increase of between 70 and 90% (UNDP 2007).
The Basin countries are largely rural. The agriculture sector employs the largest share of the labor force (60-92%), with services next (6-30%), and industry ranking third (2-16%). The services sector is dominant in the urban areas, whereas agriculture dominates in the rural areas.
Social development in the basin's countries remains problematic. Adult literacy rates remain low and range from about 24% in Burkina Faso and Mali to 57.9% in Ghana.
Access to safe drinking water varies from 50 to 84%. In general, access to safe drinking water is lower in rural areas than in urban areas.
In the Basin countries, diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and diarrhea are common. Also, HIV/AIDS is a serious problem.
According to the World Development Report 2007, all of the Volta River Basin countries, except Ghana and Togo, are considered to have low human development and are among the poorest nations in the world with an average per-capita GDP of about US$ 1,500 per year.
Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Ghana have more than 70% of their population living below the US$ 2 a day poverty line.
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