Rwanda’s environment and disaster management authorities will soon start using slope stability software to collect useful data in regions prone to landslides.
The revelation was made recently in Musanze District, at the end of a weeklong training on slope stability and causes of soil erosion, which had drawn 60 engineers from districts, government agencies and academic institutions.
The geotechnical slope stability software called Slide, which was developed by Canadian firm Rocscience, has been in use in multiple countries and experts say it can curb landslides and their impact.
The Northern and Western Provinces — which have a mountainous altitude and the highest amount of rainfall annually — are the most susceptible to landslides.
According to officials, Rwanda loses Rwf204 billion in response to water-related disasters such as landslides and floods. More than 100 people have died this year due to these disasters.
Causes of landslides include unplanned settlements, improper land use practices and lack of storm water harvesting mechanisms, among others.
Data on the national scale is available. However, researchers and scientists say more data is needed to understand other causes of landslides in the districts vulnerable to landslides.
They recommend the collection of data on a slope scale (three square kilometres) and a regional scale (3,000 square kilometres).
“This software will help us in our daily work, and some of our staff have been trained on how to use it. We already have other measures in place to prevent landslides and soil erosion, and this software will be another solution,” Dr. Emmanuel Rukundo, the Director General of the Rwanda Water Resources Board, said.
The software has come with 20 free licenses which will be valid for 12 months, and will be used by civil engineers and technicians in different districts and government agencies as well as researchers.
“Specifically, we use the software, which is able to carry out slope stability analysis and design specific support structures, in order to transform an unstable slope into a stable slope,” Prof. Roberto Valentino of the University of Parma, in Italy said.
While the software alone cannot end landslides, Prof. Valentino said with investment, Rwandan civil engineers and technicians in districts can design strong support structures for road movements, one of the causes of landslides.
The training which closed on Saturday July 16 was part of a project called Erasmus Plus EnRHEd, that involves seven Rwandan and European higher education institutions, namely the University of Rwanda, INES-Ruhengeri, IPRC Musanze, University of Technology and Arts of Byumba, and the University of Parma, University of Liège as well as Cologne University of Applied Sciences.
Emile Abayisenga, the Principal of IPRC Musanze, said the project has enabled the academic institutions to share knowledge and experience.