Prevention and mitigation of urban gullies: lessons learned from failures and successes

Intense rainfall, inappropriate city infrastructure and lack of urban planning lead to the formation of large gullies in many Congolese cities. These urban gullies are often formed in a matter of hours due to the concentration of rainfall runoff. Once formed, they mostly continue to expand during subsequent years. Given their nature and location in densely populated areas, they often claim casualties, cause large damage to houses and infrastructure and impede the development of many (peri-) urban areas. These problems directly affect the livelihood of perhaps more than a million of mainly poor people in DRC and may strongly aggravate as a result of rapid urban growth and climate change. Several initiatives already exist to stabilize existing gullies, but an estimated 50% of these measures fail. Furthermore, prevention receives very little attention.


This project aims to contribute to the prevention and mitigation of urban gullies by strengthening the research and decision-making capacity of Congolese universities and members of the national Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) platform. For this, we aim to (i) study the factors controlling this erosion process; (ii) identify the most effective/efficient prevention and mitigation measures (iii) study the societal and governance context of urban gullies and its influence on the prevention and mitigation of urban gullies; and (iv) valorize and appropriate the obtained research results.


This will mainly be done by the training of 3 MSc from DRC trained in Belgium, three MSc trained in DRC and 2 PhD students of DRC trained in Belgium and DRC. Their research will focus on urban gullies and prevention and mitigation initiatives in Kinshasa, Bukavu and Kikwit. In Kinshasa, also the societal context of urban gullies will be investigated. Apart from the training of these students, the project will support local MSc studies and provide a range of prediction tools, field manuals, trainings, seminars and workshops to assist decision makers and other stakeholders in addressing this issue.

Principal investigator:


2018 2023

External collaborators:

KU Leuven