Drivers of Gully Erosion and its Socio-economic and Environmental Effects in a Tropical Semi-arid Environment

Harrison Churu *

Department of Soil Science, University of Eldoret, P.O. Box 1125-30100, Eldoret, Kenya.

Solomon Kamau

Department of Agriculture, Animal Science and Natural Resources, Moi University, P.O. Box 3900-30100, Eldoret, Kenya.

Wilson Ng’etich

Department of Soil Science, University of Eldoret, P.O. Box 1125-30100, Eldoret, Kenya.

Keziah Magiroi

Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), P.O. Box 450-30200, Kitale, Kenya.

Bonface Alkamoi

Department of Seed Crops and Horticultural Sciences, University of Eldoret, P.O. Box 1125-30100, Eldoret, Kenya.

Syphyline Kebeney

Department of Agriculture, Animal Science and Natural Resources, Moi University, P.O. Box 3900-30100, Eldoret, Kenya.

Fred Wamalwa

Department of Rural Development and Agricultural Economics, University of Eldoret, P.O. Box 1125-30100, Eldoret, Kenya.

James Mumo

Department of Soil Science, University of Eldoret, P.O. Box 1125-30100, Eldoret, Kenya.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Gully erosion is a form of severe land degradation, which is more pronounced in semi-arid and arid environments due to their vulnerable ecosystems. Establishing the causes and effects of gully erosion is therefore fundamental in policy formulation and resource allocation for up-scaling context-specific gully mitigation and rehabilitation measures. Thus, this study aimed at assessing the causes and effects of gully erosion in semi-arid region, in the North-West part of Kenya. A cross-sectional survey, field measurements, laboratory analysis, focus group discussions and key informants’ interviews were used to collect data on drivers and effects of gully erosion. Descriptive statistics and content analysis were used to analyze the data. From the findings, 60 % of the respondents reported deforestation as the main driver of gully erosion. Further, 37 and 34 % of the respondents reported surface runoff and steep slopes, respectively, as major drivers of gully erosion. Soils in the region had a high dispersion ratio, with values of between 0.3 and 0.9, making them highly erodible. About 66 and 55 % of the respondents reported that the major effects of gully erosion were reduction in arable land size and death of livestock due to fatal falls, respectively. Approximately 14 ha of arable land and 1,483,600 Mg of sediment have been lost to gully erosion at the rate of about 2,410 Mg ha-1 over a period of 45 years. The average growth rate and density of gullies in the study site stood at 154 Mg ha-1 yr-1 and 0.7 km km-2, respectively. Four people and about 100 cattle had died due to fatal falls into the deep gullies. Thus, there is an urgent need to rehabilitate existing gullies while mitigating occurrence of new gullies in the study area. This would convert existing badlands into hotspots of biodiversity.

Keywords: Erodibility, cambisols, deforestation, dispersion ratio, gully morphometry, land degradation, lixisols, overstocking

How to Cite

Churu , H., Kamau , S., Ng’etich , W., Magiroi , K., Alkamoi , B., Kebeney , S., Wamalwa , F., & Mumo , J. (2024). Drivers of Gully Erosion and its Socio-economic and Environmental Effects in a Tropical Semi-arid Environment. Asian Journal of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, 10(2), 13–26.


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