Estimation of Soil Erosion Using RUSLE Model and GIS: The Case of Satinskyi Catchment, Western Rwanda
The problem of soil erosion in Rwanda has been highlighted in previous studies. They have shown that half of the country’s farmland suffers moderate to severe erosion, with the highest soil loss rates found in the steeper and highly rainy northern and western highlands of the country. The purpose of this study was to estimate soil loss in Satinskyi, one of the catchments located in Ngororero District of Western Rwanda. This has been achieved using the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) model, which has been implemented in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) environment. The methods consisted of preparing a set of input factor layers including Slope Length and Steepness (LS) factor, Rainfall Erosivity (R) factor, Soil Erodibility (K) factor, Support Practice (P) factor, and Land Surface Cover Management Factor (C) factor, for the model. The input factors have been integrated for soil loss estimates computation using RUSLE model, and this has enabled to quantitatively assess variations in the mean of the total estimated soil loss per annum in relation to topography and land-use patterns of the studied catchment. The findings showed that the average soil loss in Satinskyi catchment is estimated at 38.4 t/ha/year. It was however found that about 91% of the study area consists of areas with slope angle exceeding 15°, a situation which exposes the land to severe soil loss rates ranging between 31 t/ha/year and 41 t/ha/year. Apart from the steep slope, changes in land use also contribute to high rates of soil loss in the catchment.
Keywords: Soil Erosion Estimation, GIS, RUSLE, Satinskyi Catchment, Rwanda