GI for Sustainability

GI & Sustainability 4

6108.1 - DEM Application in Sustainable Landscape design for long term resilience against flood risk in Narok town, Kenya

Thursday, July 6
8:30 AM - 8:50 AM
Location: Maryland C

Among the natural hazards and disasters experienced in Kenya, flooding is first in costing economic losses and third in fatalities with epidemic and drought taking first and second place respectively. Despite many efforts having been taken to deal with the increasing weather hazards, satisfactory results are yet to be realized owing to the increasing population and urbanization coupled with climatic variability as climate change takes its toll. In the recent past, flooding events have been on the rise in Kenya threatening the livelihoods of local communities. According to situational analyses reports done in the country regarding the condition of flooding, Narok County has been reported to experience flood events almost every rainy season. As reported in the Narok flood assessment report, heavy rains experienced during the 24th to 28th of December 2009 at Rotian, Narok, resulted in loss of one life, destruction and heavy siltation of drainage canals, buildings and roads and toilets as well as underground sewerage swept away. Narok County has been on the headlines for its catastrophic flood events that have not only caused damage to the urban road and drainage infrastructure, urban buildings, agriculture and businesses but also loss of lives. Since the onset of the long rains in March 2013 to April 2013 for example, more than 10,980 people were affected by floods in Kenya; with about 93 losing their lives and many displaced. A report by the Kenyan Red Cross indicated that out of the 93 lost lives, 15 were from Narok where 350 people were displaced. According to the state of the Narok environment report 2009, indiscriminate destruction of vegetation in the upper zones is a major course of the floods as it reduces the infiltration of runoff into the ground. Current land allotment practices that do not support traditional pastoralism has encouraged many into agriculture and charcoal burning, activities that have left land degraded, springs drying and riparian zones encroached into. Flood risk assessment for development of sustainable landscape management practices that will aid in building long term local resilience against flood risk is therefore important. The role of geographic technologies in landscape design, flood risk assessment and management, are demonstrated in this research. Digital elevation models (DEM) which have long been proven very useful for landscape characterization and analysis; the basis for assessment of flood hazard analysis and modeling is utilized. Using the ArcHydro tools in ArcGIS software, DEM was analyzed to delineate the watershed within the study area where afforestation actions need to be initiated, derive the drainage lines in order to dictate the riparian zones, and extract the inundation areas that need to be isolated within the town. Land cover within the watershed was examined using Landsat images and the effect of changing land cover on flood patterns determined. A map of inundation areas that will be useful in indicating areas of emergency action was created. Areas within the watershed where afforestation and reforestation actions need to be initialed were also created. This would facilitate efforts needed to reduce the amount of runoff by facilitating increased surface water infiltration hence reducing floods. Major drainage lines were also delineated which would guide on riparian management, and enforcement of physical planning standards within the town. The study revealed environmental and public health concerns that call for interdisciplinary landscape planning measures to achieve long-term resilience.

Susan M. Kotikot

University of Alabama in Huntsville

Susan is a Graduate student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Her major is in Earth System Science and she is interested in GIS, Remote sensing and applications in agricuture, land cover mapping, disaster mapping and early warnign systems. Her previous work majorly involved mapping weather and climate related threats to agricultural productivity in Kenya using GIS and Remote sensing techniques.


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Horst Kremers

CODATA-Germany Chair, Berlin (Germany)


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6108.1 - DEM Application in Sustainable Landscape design for long term resilience against flood risk in Narok town, Kenya

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