Landslide Risk Assessment for the Built Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa Open image in new window

  • Peter RedshawEmail author
  • Tom Dijkstra
  • Matthew Free
  • Colm Jordan
  • Anna Morley
  • Stuart Fraser
Conference paper


This paper presents an overview of the findings from a series of country-scale landslide risk assessments conducted on behalf of the governments of five Sub-Saharan countries, the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Niger and Senegal sample a wide range of Sub-Saharan Africa’s different geographies and are characterised by contrasting levels of development. Landslide hazard, exposure and vulnerability therefore differ from country to country, resulting in significant spatial variation of landslide risk. In East Africa; Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda are characterised by mountainous and seismically active terrain which results in a relatively high landslide hazard. In conjunction with rapid urbanisation and a population which is expected to rise from around 170 million in 2010 to nearly 300 million in 2050, this means that landslides pose a significant risk to the built environment. In West Africa, a combination of low landslide hazard and lower exposure in Niger and Senegal results in comparatively low landslide risk. This paper also describes areas with perceived misconceptions with regard to the levels of landslide risk. These are areas of only low to moderate landslide hazard but where urbanisation has resulted in a concentration of exposed buildings and infrastructure that are vulnerable to landslides, resulting in higher landslide risk.


Regional landslide risk Built environment Ethiopia Kenya Uganda Niger Senegal 



This project was funded by the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery. Exposure data was provided by a consortium comprising ImageCat Inc., CIESIN, University of Colorado and SecondMuse under a related project administered by the GFDRR. PGA500 data was provided by a consortium comprising Risk Engineering and Design (RED) and Evaluacion de Riesgos Naturales (ERN) under a related project administered by the GFDRR.

Dijkstra and Jordan publish with permission of the Executive Director, British Geological Survey (NERC).


  1. Abebe B, Dramis F, Fubelli G, Umer M, Asrat A (2010) Landslides in the Ethiopian highlands and the Rift margins. J Afr Earth Sc 56:131–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ayalew L (1999) The effect of seasonal rainfall on landslides in the highlands of Ethiopia. Bull Eng Geol Env 58(1):9–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ayalew L, Yamagishi H (2004) Slope failures in the Blue Nile basin, as seen from landscape evolution perspective. Geomorphology 57(1):95–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ayalew L, Moeller D, Reik G (2009) Geotechnical aspects and stability of road cuts in the Blue Nile Basin Ethiopia. Geotech Geol Eng 27(6):713–728CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beyene F, Busch W, Knospe S, Ayalew L (2012). Heavy rainfall-induced landslide detection from very high resolution multi-aspect TerraSAR-X images in Dessie, Ethiopia. In: Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), 2012 IEEE International, pp 3014–3017Google Scholar
  6. Broothaerts N, Kissi E, Poesen J, Van Rompaey A, Getahun K, Van Ranst E, Diels J (2012) Spatial patterns, causes and consequences of landslides in the Gilgel Gibe catchment, SW Ethiopia. CATENA 97:127–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Corominas J, van Westen C, Frattini P, Cascini L, Malet J-P, Fotopoulou S, Catani F, Van Den Eeckhaut M, Mavrouli O, Agliardi F, Pitilakis K, Winter MG, Pastor M, Ferlisi S, Tofani V, Hervas J, Smith JT (2014) Recommendations for the quantitative analysis of landslide risk. Bull Eng Geol Environ 73:209–263Google Scholar
  8. Du J, Nadim F, Lacasse S (2013) Quantitative vulnerability estimation for individual landslides. In: Proceedings of the 18th international conference on soil mechanics and geotechnical engineering, Paris, pp 2181–2184Google Scholar
  9. Fall M, Azzam R, Chicgoua N (2006a) Landslide danger assessment of large-scale natural slopes—a GIS based approach. Paper 104. IAEG 2006 Engineering Geology for Tomorrow’s Cities: 10th international congress of the international association for engineering geology and the environment, 6–10 Sept 2006, Nottingham [online]. Available online: Accessed 07 Aus 2016
  10. Fall M, Azzam R, Noubactep C (2006b) A multi-method approach to study the stability of natural slopes and landslide susceptibility mapping. Eng Geol 82(4):241–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fubelli G, Guida D, Cestari A, Dramis F (2013) Landslide hazard and risk in the Dessie Town area (Ethiopia). Landslide Science and Practice 6:357–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Horton P, Jaboyedoff M, Bardou E (2008) Debris flow susceptibility mapping at a regional scale. In: Locat J, Perret D, Turmel D, Demers D, Leroueil S (eds) Proceedings of the 4th Canadian conference on Geohazards: from causes to management, Presse de l’Universite Laval, Quebec, pp 399–406Google Scholar
  13. Jacobs L, Dewitte O, Poesen J, Sekajugo J, Maes J, Mertens K, Kervyn M (2015) A first landslide inventory in the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda. In EGU General Assembly Conference Abstracts (vol 17, p 5997)Google Scholar
  14. Kitutu M (2010) Landslide occurrences in the hilly areas of Bududa district in eastern Uganda and their causes. Doctoral dissertation, Makerere University, 106pGoogle Scholar
  15. Kitutu M Goretti, Muwanga A, Poesen J, Deckers JA (2011) Farmer’s perception on landslide occurrences in Bududa District, Eastern Uganda. Afr J Agric Res 6(1):7–18Google Scholar
  16. Knapen A, Kitutu M Goretti, Poesen J, Breugelmans W, Deckers J, Muwanga A (2006) Landslides in a densely populated county at the footslopes of Mount Elgon (Uganda): characteristics and causal factors. Geomorphology 73(1):149–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lee EM, Jones DKC (2004) Landslide risk assessment. Thomas Telford Ltd, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Maina-Gichaba C, Kipseba EK, Masibo M (2013) Overview of landslide occurrences in Kenya: causes, mitigation, and challengesGoogle Scholar
  19. Mastrandrea MD, Field CB, Stocker TF, Edenhofer O, Ebi KL, Frame DJ, Held H, Kriegler E, Mach KJ, Matschoss PR, Plattner GK, Yohe GW, Zwiers FW (2010) Guidance note for lead authors of the IPCC fifth assessment report on consistent treatment of uncertainties. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Available online:
  20. Mavrouli O, Fotopoulou S, Pitilakis K, Zuccaro G, Corominas J, Santo A, Cacace F, De Gregorio D, Di Crescenzo G, Foerster E, Ulrich T (2014) Vulnerability assessment for reinforced concrete buildings exposed to landslides. Bull Eng Geol Environ 73:265–289Google Scholar
  21. Meten M, PrakashBhandary N, Yatabe R (2015) Effect of landslide factor combinations on the prediction accuracy of landslide susceptibility maps in the Blue Nile Gorge of Central Ethiopia. Geoenvironmental Disasters 2(1):1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Musinguzi M, Asiimwe I (2014) Application of geospatial tools for landslide hazard assessment for Uganda. S Afr J Geomatics 3(3):302–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nadim F, Kjekstad O, Domaas U, Rafat R, Peduzzi P (2006). Global landslides risk case study. In: Arnold et al (ed) Natural disaster hotspots; case studies. Disaster risk management series. The World Bank, Washington, pp 21–64Google Scholar
  24. Nadim F, Jaedicke C, Smebye, H, Kalsnes B (2013) Assessment of global landslide hazard hotspots. In: Sassa K, Rouhban B, Briceno S, McSaveney M, He B (eds) Landslides: global risk preparedness, pp 59–71Google Scholar
  25. NEMA (2007). Uganda: National State of the Environment Report 2007, 357pGoogle Scholar
  26. Ngecu WM, Ichang’i DW (1999) The environmental impact of landslides on the population living on the eastern footslopes of the Aberdare ranges in Kenya: a case study of Maringa Village landslide. Environ Geol 38(3):259–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Temesgen B, Mohammed MU, Korme T (2001) Natural hazard assessment using GIS and remote sensing methods, with particular reference to the landslides in the Wondogenet area, Ethiopia. Phys Chem Earth Part C 26(9):665–675Google Scholar
  28. Terra Daily (2010) Uganda plans to relocate 500,000 at risk of landslides: minister. Available online: Hosted by Terra Daily. Accessed 20 Mar 2015
  29. Van Den Eeckhaut M, Poesen J, Govers G, Verstraeten G, Demoulin A (2007) Characteristics of the size distribution of recent and historical landslides in a populated hilly region. Earth and Planet Sci Lett 256:588–603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Van Den Eeckhaut M, Moeyersons J, Nyssen J, Abraha A, Poesen J, Haile M, Deckers J (2009) Spatial patterns of old, deep-seated landslides: a case-study in the Northern Ethiopian highlands. Geomorphology 105(3):239–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Vařilová Z, Kropáček J, Zvelebil J, Šťastný M, Vilímek V (2015) Reactivation of mass movements in Dessie graben, the example of an active landslide area in the Ethiopian Highlands. Landslides 12(5):985–996CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wang HG, Montoliu-Munoz M, Gueye NFD (2009) Preparing to manage natural hazards and climate change risks in Dakar, Senegal—a spatial and institutional approach. Pilot study report, World Bank, p 101pGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Redshaw
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tom Dijkstra
    • 2
  • Matthew Free
    • 1
  • Colm Jordan
    • 2
  • Anna Morley
    • 1
  • Stuart Fraser
    • 3
  1. 1.Ove Arup & Partners International LtdLondonUK
  2. 2.British Geological Survey, Environmental Science CentreKeyworth, NottinghamUK
  3. 3.Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery—Innovation LabWashington, D.C.USA

Personalised recommendations