EGU24-12062, updated on 09 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Long-term Monitoring of Environmental and Geophysical Impacts in Conflict-Endured Zones: A Landscape Perspective on Kivu Lake

Ivan Lizaga1, Borja Latorre2, Montfort Bagalwa3,4, Bossissi Nkuba5, Samuel Bodé1, Karume Katcho6, Honoré Ciraba4, Olivier Evrard7, Karen Büscher8, Koen Vlassenroot8, Kristof Van Oost3, William Blake9, Ana Navas2, and Pascal Boeckx1
Ivan Lizaga et al.
  • 1Ghent University, Department of Green Chemistry and Technology, Gent, Belgium (
  • 2Estación Experimental de Aula-Dei (EEAD-CSIC), Spanish National Research Council, Zaragoza, Spain. Avenida Montañana, 1005, 50059 Zaragoza, Spain
  • 3Earth and Life Institute, UCLouvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
  • 4Service Environnement, Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 5University of Antwerp, Institute of Development Policy and Management (IOB), Antwerpen, Belgium
  • 6Centre de Recherche en Géothermie, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • 7Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (LSCE-IPSL), Unité Mixte de Recherche 8212 (CEA/CNRS/UVSQ), Université Paris-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 8Conflict Research Group, Ghent University, Universiteitstraat 8, 9000, Gent, Belgium
  • 9School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth, UK

Human displacements, especially those driven by violent conflicts forcing sudden population migrations, wield profound and enduring impacts on landscapes, instigating substantial disruptions to the natural environment. Beyond immediate destruction, these consequences pose challenges to ecosystem health, food security, and biodiversity conservation, particularly exacerbated in the absence of effective governance. Traditional land management practices, agriculture, and conservation efforts are disrupted, constraining the implementation of long or medium-term conservation practices in agriculture. These disruptions may contribute to increased erosion and sediment transport, depleting soil nutrients and resulting in natural disasters such as flash floods, landslides, and water quality degradation. This phenomenon is particularly pronounced in regions experiencing high rainfall intensity, coupled with inadequate land use and agricultural management practices. Understanding the primary factors behind the last decades escalation in land degradation and subsequent sediment export is crucial to prevent further ecosystem degradation and heightened instability in conflict-affected areas. To address this, we have developed an integrated approach involving core sampling, sediment fingerprinting techniques, high-resolution sediment sampling, and automated remote sensing routines to pinpoint hotspot areas and track conservation efforts. Using the Lake Kivu region as a case study, situated on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an area marked by prolonged violent conflict since the early 1990s, we evaluate the applicability of this combined approach.

The preliminary results from the multiple techniques independently suggest an increasing trend in exported sediment over the last decade. This trend is particularly pronounced in areas characterized by high instability and economic challenges. In contrast, relatively more stable regions exhibit a stabilization in sedimentation rates. This stability is attributed primarily to the implementation of conservation practices and the presence of robust transport infrastructures, both playing crucial roles in landscape conservation. Results underscore the method's effectiveness in elucidating lasting effects on landscapes impacted by 'polycrisis', necessitating consolidated and comprehensive responses over mere technical solutions. The research objective is to target specific areas within conflict-affected regions, with a focus on mitigating environmental degradation and associated challenges.

How to cite: Lizaga, I., Latorre, B., Bagalwa, M., Nkuba, B., Bodé, S., Katcho, K., Ciraba, H., Evrard, O., Büscher, K., Vlassenroot, K., Van Oost, K., Blake, W., Navas, A., and Boeckx, P.: Long-term Monitoring of Environmental and Geophysical Impacts in Conflict-Endured Zones: A Landscape Perspective on Kivu Lake, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-12062,, 2024.