Development of a sediment yield model for South East Ghana in the regions around Lake Volta

  • M.C. Bambury

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Soil erosion is one of the most pressing issues facing developing countries. The need for soil erosion assessment is paramount as a successful and productive agricultural base is necessary for economic growth and stability. In Ghana, a country with an expanding population and high potential for economic growth, agriculture is an important resource; however, most of the crop production is restricted to low technology shifting cultivation agriculture. The high intensity seasonal rainfall coincides with the early growing period of many of the crops meaning that plots are very susceptible to erosion, especially on steep sided valleys in the region south of Lake Volta. This research investigated the processes of soil erosion by rainfall with the aim of producing a sediment yield model for a small semi-agricultural catchment in rural Ghana. Various types of modelling techniques were considered to discover those most applicable to the sub-tropical environment of Southern Ghana. Once an appropriate model had been developed and calibrated, the aim was to look at how to enable the scaling up of the model using sub-catchments to calculate sedimentation rates of Lake Volta. An experimental catchment was located in Ghana, south west of Lake Volta, where data on rainstorms and the associated streamflow, sediment loads and soil data (moisture content, classification and particle size distribution) was collected to calibrate the model. Additional data was obtained from the Soil Research Institute in Ghana to explore calibration of the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE, Wischmeier and Smith, 1978) for Ghanaian soils and environment. It was shown that the USLE could be successfully converted to provide meaningful soil loss estimates in the Ghanaian environment. However, due to experimental difficulties, the proposed theory and methodology of the sediment yield model could only be tested in principle. Future work may include validation of the model and subsequent scaling up to estimate sedimentation rates in Lake Volta.
Date of AwardFeb 2007
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJohn Elgy (Supervisor)


  • USLE
  • soil erosion
  • GIS
  • annual estimates
  • single-storm modelling

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