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Development of gullies and gully-erosion control in a tropical mountain catchment, Tigray, Ethiopia

Maude VEYRET-PICOT student laureate

°1979 Belgium
Licence in geography (physical geography), Kaholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, 2001

Ravijnontwikkeling en erosiecontrolemaatregelen in een tropisch bergrivierbekken, Tigray, Ethiopië

One of the most obvious symptoms of desertification is the development of gullies. They drain the aquifer and provoke an irreversible deterioration of the biological and economic productivity of the soil-vegetation-water system.
Measures to control or to prevent the initiation of gullies, based on a scientific approach, have only been developed since the last twenty years. Before, control measures were often part of a standard-package that paid little attention to the specific local conditions. The actions were not very efficient and in some cases even aggravated the problem. This ‘top down-approach’ was, therefore, to be turned into a ‘bottom up-approach’, taking into account the traditional wisdom of local farmers in dealing with the limitations and vicissitudes of their land.

The work of Maude Veyret-Picot frames entirely in this new approach. It was implemented in the highlands of the Tigray Province of Ethiopia. Via ‘Participatory Rural Appraisal’ methods, she made a case study about the evolution of a big gully in Dingilet. By applying existing models of gullying, Maude Veyret-Picot comes to the conclusion that, over the next few years, the Dingilet gully will get deeper and longer, if no remedial control measures are taken. The analysis of 400 check dams in terms of their efficiency is, therefore, a second part of this work.
The result of Maude Veyret-Picot’s scientific study is not an illegible cryptogram, as is, unfortunately, very often the case, but a useful instrument that can be applied by the local population in a simple and efficient way.

report by Prof. Dr. Morgan De Dapper, Department of geography, Research unit ‘Physical geography, geomorphology & geo-archeology of Mediterranean and tropical areas’, Universiteit Gent, Belgium