Land use/land cover change detection and prediction for sustainable urban land management in Kigali City, Rwanda

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Katabarwa Murenzi Gilbert
Yishao Shi


Rapid urbanization and population growth have significantly transformed land use and land cover (LULC) in cities worldwide, including Kigali City. This research aims to analyze the changes in urban population growth from 2002 to 2022, to measure LULC changes in Kigali over twenty years from 2003 to 2023, and projections for 2033, and to find the correlation between population growth and LULC changes in Kigali. The study employs remote sensing imagery and supervised classification, an accurate GIS-based technique to assess the change in built-up and non-built-up. In the preprocessing stage for correcting image stripes in Landsat7, the Fill Nodata tool, a spatial analyst tool, was utilized. The results show that the population of Kigali City has grown significantly over the past two decades, with an increase from 608,141 in 2002 to 1,132,686 in 2012 and 1,745,555 in 2022. As a result of urbanization, there have been changes in land use. In 2003, built-up areas covered 48.59 km2, while non-built-up areas were 681.41 km2. By 2013, built-up areas expanded to 85.24 km2 and by 2023, it reached 238.07 km2. On the other hand, non-built-up areas decreased to 596.17 km2 in 2013 and further to 491.93 km2 in 2023. Projections for 2033 suggest that built-up areas will cover 265.06 km2, while non-built-up areas will decrease to 464.94 km2. Therefore, the corresponding decline in non-built-up areas indicates the conversion of natural landscapes and the challenges arising from urban sprawl. These transformations underscore the need for proactive urban management and strategic planning to effectively control expansion and mitigate the consequences of uncontrolled growth. When considering the future in 2033, the anticipated data indicates that urban growth will continue, with an upward trend in built-up areas and a corresponding downward trend in non-built-up areas. It is recommended that to manage the influence of urban growth in Kigali on land cover change, planners should develop policies for compact and mixed-use areas, clear boundaries for growth, and preservation of green spaces. Comprehensive land use planning and zoning regulations are necessary for sustainable urbanization that balances development, environment, and socio-economic well-being.

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How to Cite
Murenzi Gilbert, K., & Shi, Y. (2023). Land use/land cover change detection and prediction for sustainable urban land management in Kigali City, Rwanda. Advanced Land Management, 3(2), 62–75. Retrieved from


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