In this study, the effect of land use-land cover change (LULCC) on surface (direct) runoff was estimated for Lake Basaka catchment using the soil conservation services-curve number model in the geospatial information system (ArcInfo), assisted by remote sensing. The result indicated that Lake Basaka catchment experienced a significant LULCC. About 86% of forest coverage and 46% of grasslands were lost over the study period (1973-2015), which were shifted to open bushy woodlands, farms, lake water and wetlands. The runoff responses were observed to be increasing since 1970s, especially after the inception of large-scale irrigation schemes to the region. The highest increase of surface runoff was observed to occur after mid-1980s, which is in line with the significant LULCC and the corresponding increment of lake level in that period. The reduction in vegetation cover has resulted in an increase of runoff coefficient (rc) from 0.07 in the 1960s to about 0.23 in 2000s. The sensitivity analysis result indicated that about 70% of the increase runoff rate in the lake catchment is attributed to LULCC, and the remaining proportion is due to rainfall. However, the effect of extreme rainfall on runoff process could not be underemphasized since it has significant impact especially during extreme events (observed rc of 0.33 in 2008). Overall, when predicting the runoff response of the lake catchment, it is importance to take into account possible future LULCC and evolution.
Keywords: Lake Basaka; Land cover; Matahara; Runoff response; Sensitivity analysis.