Evaluating sediment storage dams: structural off-site sediment trapping measures in northwest Ethiopia


  • M. Mekonnen Amhara National Regional State, Bureau of Agriculture, PO Box 1188, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
  • S.D. Keesstra Soil Physics and Land Management Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands
  • J.E. Baartman Soil Physics and Land Management Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands
  • C.J. Ritsema Soil Physics and Land Management Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands
  • A.M. Melesse Department of Earth & Environment, ECS 339 Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th Street, Miami




sediment storage dams, sediment trapping efficacy, off-site sediment trapping measures, sediment yield, Ethiopia.


Reservoir and lake sedimentation is a vital problem in Ethiopia. Constructing small and medium size dams at the outlets of sub-catchments within larger catchment helps to reduce the transport of sediment downstream to reservoirs or lakes. This study assessed the sediment trapping efficacy (STE) of sediment storage dams (SSDs) built at the outlets of eight small sub-catchments in northwest Ethiopia, as an off-site sediment trapping measure. Satellite imagery and  topographic maps were used to assess land use/land cover and delineate the boundaries of sub-catchments. In the field, trapped sediment by SSDs was measured directly, as well as in- and outflow of suspended sediment with which the STE of each SSD was estimated. Sediment yield of each sub-catchment was calculated from the measured trapped sediment and estimated suspended sediment loss. Results show that SSDs trapped an average of 1584 t yr-1 of the inflow sediment and catchment specific sediment yield ranged from 8.6-55 t ha-1 yr-1. Two representative SSDs constructed from gabion and stone were evaluated with regard to their STE. Results showed that their efficacy was 74% and 67% for the gabion and stone SSD, respectively. In general, although SSDs might be costly for small scale farmers and have a relatively short life span depending on their size, they are promising off-site structural measures to trap significant amounts of sediment at the outlets of sub-catchments and subsequently reducing sediment movement to downstream water bodies.


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Author Biographies

M. Mekonnen, Amhara National Regional State, Bureau of Agriculture, PO Box 1188, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

ICT and GIS department

S.D. Keesstra, Soil Physics and Land Management Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands

Soil Physics and Land Management Group

J.E. Baartman, Soil Physics and Land Management Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands

Soil Physics and Land Management Group

C.J. Ritsema, Soil Physics and Land Management Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands

Soil Physics and Land Management Group

A.M. Melesse, Department of Earth & Environment, ECS 339 Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th Street, Miami

Department of Earth  & Environment


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How to Cite

Mekonnen M, Keesstra S, Baartman J, Ritsema C, Melesse A. Evaluating sediment storage dams: structural off-site sediment trapping measures in northwest Ethiopia. CIG [Internet]. 2015 Mar. 16 [cited 2023 Jun. 7];41(1):7-22. Available from: https://publicaciones.unirioja.es/ojs/index.php/cig/article/view/2643