Assessment of Runoff and Soil Loss Under Natural Vegetation Cover and Rainfall in a Semi-Arid Catchment, West Pokot County, Kenya

  • Emmanuel Bukoma Kenyatta University
  • Joy Obando, PhD Kenyatta University
  • Shadrack Murimi, PhD Kenyatta University
Keywords: Soil Erosion, Semi-arid lands, Runoff plot, Sediment, Slope grade
Share Article:


Soil erosion has become a major cause of land degradation with regrettable economic losses. It has affected livelihoods of many agro-pastoral communities in Arid and Semi-arid Lands (ASALs). There is need for continuous assessment of soil erosion in these areas in order to provide sufficient data on soil loss for soil resource management, conservation, and land use planning. The purpose of this study was to determine the rate of soil loss by water for soil conservation planning in West Pokot County, Kenya. Two adjacent fields with variable vegetation cover density were identified in a semi-arid catchment for runoff plot research. Vegetation cover on the fields was measured using the transect line-intercept survey method. Field 1 had 25–50% vegetation cover while field 2 had 50–75% vegetation cover. On each field, three identical erosion plots with dimensions 20 m along the slope and 10 m wide were constructed. Runoff and sediment from the plots were measured for fifteen rainfall-runoff events during the long rains season. Data was analysed using correlation analysis and linear regression methods. The results show that runoff production varied from 1.03% to 1.44% of total rain water. Soil loss from the plots was 120.3–155.5 g/ . Runoff-rainfall correlation analysis showed a significant positive relationship (r =0.9609, P<0.05%) with 92.33% variance in runoff production. Soil loss had significant positive relationship with runoff (r =0.9840, P<0.05%) with 96.83% variance in soil loss. The study found that runoff production and soil loss was slow in the field with dense vegetation cover. Studies project an increase in human and livestock populations in semi-arid areas. This points at possible decrease in vegetation cover and increase in the rate of soil loss by water. The study recommends development of a soil conservation and management strategy in the study area.


Download data is not yet available.


Abua, M. A. & Digha, O. N. (2015). Assessment of Rainfall-Runoff relationship on soil loss using runoff plots in Obudu, Nigeria. International journal of contemporary applied sciences, 2(5), 108–121.

Alam, A. (2014). Soil degradation: A Challenge to Sustainable Agriculture. International Journal of Scientific Research in Agricultural Sciences, 1(4), 50–55.

Barcelona Field studies Centre, (2000). Measuring Slope Steepness. Available (online) at < Accessed on 10/01/2017

Bochet, E., Poesen, J., & Rubio, J. L. (2006). Runoff and Soil loss under plants of a semi-arid Mediterranean shrub land: Influence of plant Morphology and Rainfall intensity. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms Journal, 31, 536–549.

Coulloudon, B., Eshelman, K., Gianola, J., Habich, N., Hughes, L., Johnson, C. M., ... & Willoughby, J. W. (1999). Sampling vegetation attributes: interagency technical reference. US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management.

Defersha, M. B & Melesse, A. M, (2012). Field scale investigation of the effect of land use on sediment yield and runoff using runoff plot data and models in the Mara River basin, Kenya. Journal catena, 89, 54–64.

FAO, (2019). Save our Soils: Finding ways to stop Soil Erosion. A Global Symposium on Soil Erosion. Rome, FAO Bulletin dated 15/5/2019

Gelagay, H., S., & Minale, A. S. (2016). Soil loss estimation using GIS and remote sensing techniques: Acase of Koga watershed, Northwestern Ethopia. International Soil and Water Conservation Reseach Journal, 4,126–136.

Ghabbour, E. A., Davies, G., Misiewicz, T., Alami, R. A., Askounis, E. M., Cuozzo, N. P., Felice, A. J., Haskell, J. M., Moy, A. K. & Roach, A. C. (2017). National Comparison of the Total and Sequestered Organic Matter Contents of Conventional and Organic Farm Soils; Advances in Agronomy, 146, 1–35.

GoK, (2012). National Policy for Sustainable Development of Northern Kenya and other arid lands. Ministry of state for Development of Northern Kenya and other arid lands. Sessional paper No. 8 of 2012.

GoK, (2016a). Land Degradation Assessment in Kenya. Kenya agricultural productivity and sustainable land management project. Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Nairobi

GoK, (2016b). Climate Risk Profile for West Pokot County: Kenya County Climate Risk Profile Series. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water resources, Nairobi

Green, R. S. B, Kinnel, P. I. A., & Wood, J. T, (1994). Role of plant cover and stock trampling on runoff and soil erosion from a semi-desert wooded rangeland, Australia. Journal of Soil Resources, 32, 953–973.

Guo, Q., Hao, Y., & Liu, B. (2015). Rates of Soil Erosion in China: A study based on runoff plot data. Journal Catena, 124, 68–76.

Jia, C., Sun, B., Yu, X., & Yang, X. (2020). Analysis of Runoff and Sediment losses from a Sloped Roadbed under variable Rainfall Intensities and vegetation Conditions; in Sustainability, 12, 2077.

Kayet, N., Pathak, K., Chakrabarty, A., & Sahoo, S. (2018). Evaluation of soil loss estimation using RUSLE model and SCS-CN method in hillslope mining areas. International Soil and Water Conservation Reseach Journal, 6, 31–42.

Konana, C., Gachene, C., Mburu, D., Mureithi, S., Gicheru, P., & Khalif, Z., (2017). Drivers of Gully Erosion: Case Study of Narok County, Kenya. International Journal of Social Science and Technology, 2(3).

Lucey, T. (2002). Quantitative Techniques (6thed). Book power/ELST, London

Martinez-Mena, M., Carrillo-Lopez, E., Boix- Fayos, C., Almagro, M., Garcia, F. N., Diaz-Pereira, E., Montoya, I., & De Vente, J. (2019). Long term Effectiveness of Sustainable Land Management practices to Control Runoff, Soil erosion and Nutrient loss and role of rainfall intensity in Mediterranean rain-fed agro ecosystems. Journal Catena, 187, (2020) 104352.

Mohamadi, M. A. & Kavian, A. (2015). Effects of rainfall patterns on runoff and soil erosion in field plots. International Soil and Water Conservation Reseach Journal, 3, 273–281.

Morgan, R. P. C., (2005). Soil Erosion and Conservation, 3rd ed. Blackwell Publishers, London.

Olang, L.O. & Furst, J. (2010). Effects of Land Cover Change on flood Peak discharges and runoff volumes: Model estimates for the Nyando River Basin, Kenya. Journal of Hydrological Processes, 25, 80-89.

Phinzi, K. & Ngetar, N. S. (2019). The assessment of water-borne erosion at catchment level using GIS-based RUSLE and remote sensing: A review. International Soil and Water Conservation Reseach Journal, 7, 27–46.

Tadesse, L., Suryabhagavan, K. V., Sridhar, G., & Legesse, G. (2017). Land use and land cover changes and Soil erosion in Yezat Watershed, Northwestern Ethopia. International Soil and Water Conservation Reseach Journal, 5, 85–94.

Tesfahunegn, G. B, Vlek, P. L., & Tamene, L. (2013). Application of SWAT model to assess erosion hotspots for sub-catchment management at Mai-Negus catchment in Northern Ethopia. East African Journal of science and Technology, 2 (3), 97–123.

Vasquez-Mendez, R., Ventura-Ramos, E., Oleschko, K., Hernandez-Sandoval, L., Parrot, J., & Nearing, M. A. (2010). Soil erosion and runoff in different vegetation patches from semi-arid central Mexico. Journal Catena, 80, 162–169.

Dougherty, C. (2002). Introduction to Econometrics (2nded). Oxford University Press, Oxford.

11 May, 2022
How to Cite
Bukoma, E., Obando, J., & Murimi, S. (2022). Assessment of Runoff and Soil Loss Under Natural Vegetation Cover and Rainfall in a Semi-Arid Catchment, West Pokot County, Kenya. East African Journal of Environment and Natural Resources, 5(1), 134-147.