Kubwimana, D., Ait Brahim, L., Nkurunziza, P., Dille, A., Depicker, A., Nahimana, L., Abdellah & Dewitte, O. 2021. ‘Characteristics and distribution of landslides in the populated hillslopes of Bujumbura, Burundi’. Geosciences 11: 259. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11060259. (PR).
Article in a scientific Journal / Article in a Journal
Accurate and detailed multitemporal inventories of landslides and their process characterization are crucial for the evaluation of landslide hazards and the implementation of disaster risk reduction strategies in densely-populated mountainous regions. Such investigations are, however, rare in many regions of the tropical African highlands, where landslide research is often in its infancy and not adapted to the local needs. Here, we have produced a comprehensive multitemporal investigation of the landslide processes in the hillslopes of Bujumbura, situated in the landslide-prone East African Rift. We inventoried more than 1200 landslides by combining careful field investigation and visual analysis of satellite images, very-high-resolution topographic data, and historical aerial photographs. More than 20% of the hillslopes of the city are affected by landslides. Recent landslides (post-1950s) are mostly shallow, triggered by rainfall, and located on the steepest slopes. The presence of roads and river quarrying can also control their occurrence. Deep-seated landslides typically concentrate in landscapes that have been rejuvenated through knickpoint retreat. The difference in size distributions between old and recent deep-seated landslides suggests the long-term influence of potentially changing slope-failure drivers. Of the deep-seated landslides, 66% are currently active, those being mostly earthflows connected to the river system. Gully systems causing landslides are commonly associated with the urbanization of the hillslopes. Our results provide a much more accurate record of landslide processes and their impacts in the region than was previously available. These insights will be useful for land management and disaster risk reduction strategies.