Rwanda: Better mapping of erosion risk areas needed more than ever
Following severe flooding and landslides that hit major parts of Rwanda earlier this month, experts are convinced that investing in the mapping of erosion risk areas could go a long way to keeping the number of casualties down.
In a recent assessment, experts found that land in high-risk areas is mainly used for agriculture, and 61 percent was for seasonal crops. It said that seasonal agriculture exposes soil to splash erosion and further detachment as land is not permanently covered.
The 2022 report on the State of Soil Erosion Control in Rwanda indicates that the erosion control techniques across high-risk areas in Rwanda are still very low.
Erosion control mapping shows that of the 30 districts of Rwanda, land under high erosion risk is about 1,080,168 hectares (45 percent of the total provinces land, which is estimated to be 2,385,830 hectares) of which 71,941 hectares (7 percent of the total risk areas) are at extremely high risk.
While accurate and up-to-date data on river flow, topography, and flood vulnerability remains crucial for effective flood management, Bugingo observed that limited data availability and quality could pose challenges in accurate flood forecasting, risk assessment, and planning.
Most recently, RWB has developed a dedicated application to collect more information to inform future analysis, relocation of people living in risky areas, and adjusting tools used to design flood control infrastructure.
The above tool provides information on flood exposure and areas at risk that can be visualised in 3D and shared the information with the public or other organisations. However, experts are convinced that despite these innovative solutions, limited financial resources may hinder the implementation of these large-scale infrastructure projects, such as dams, flood control structures, gully reclamation and drainage systems.
Rwanda is one of Africa’s most densely populated countries, with large concentrations in the central regions and along the shore of Lake Kivu in the west. This East African country’s total area is 26,338 km2, with a population of 13,246,394.