Application of SWAT to assess the effects of land use change in the Murchison Bay catchment in Uganda

The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) is a versatile model presently used worldwide to evaluate water quality and hydrological concerns under varying land use and environmental conditions. In this study, SWAT was used to simulate streamflow and to estimate sediment yield and nutrients loss from the Murchison Bay catchment as a result of land use changes. The SWAT model was calibrated and validated for streamflow for extended periods. The Sequential Uncertainty Fitting (SUFI-2) global sensitivity method within SWAT Calibration and Uncertainty Procedures (SWAT-CUP) was used to identify the most sensitive streamflow parameters. The model satisfactorily simulated stream discharge from the catchment. The model performance was determined with different statistical methods. The results showed a satisfactory model streamflow simulation performance. The results of runoff and average upland sediment yield estimated from the catchment showed that, both have increased over the period of study. The increasing rate of runoff can lead to severe and frequent flooding, lower water quality and reduce crop yield in the catchment. Therefore, comprehensive water management steps should be taken to reduce surface runoff in the catchment. This is the first time the SWAT model has been used in the Murchison Bay catchment. The results showed that, if all uncertainties are minimised, a well calibrated SWAT model can generate reasonable hydrologic simulation results in relation to land use, which is useful to water and environmental resources managers and policy and decision makers.
Date of publication: 
Region Focus: 
East Africa
RUFORUM Journal Articles
Licence conditions: 
Open Access
Project sponsor: 
Mobility to Enhance Training of Engineering Graduates in Africa (METEGA); RUFORUM
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