DEWITTE, Olivier

licencié en géographie, Master of Science en cartographie et télédétection, PhD Sciences – géographie, senior research scientist Département Sciences de la Terre, Service Risques naturels, Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale
Géographie (environnement, géomorphologie tropicale, télédétection), géologie (pédologie); Afrique (RD Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Ouganda, Éthiopie)

Olivier Dewitte, a geographer, is employed as a senior research scientist at the Royal Museum for Central Africa. With a broad knowledge and understanding of processes and quantitative research methodologies in geomorphology, natural hazards and environmental changes, his research aims to better understand the changing landscapes of Africa and the hazards they pose. More specifically, his interests are mainly focused on landslide, soil erosion and flash flood related topics in several regions of sub-Saharan Africa (Burundi, Cameroon, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Uganda). His research is framed around field experience and addresses the challenges of disaster risk reduction.

In 1999, Olivier Dewitte graduated from the geography master programme at University of Liège (ULiège) with a focus on geomorphology and global climatology. Then, from 1999 to 2006, he was research/teaching assistant at ULiège giving support to lectures in various fields of physical geography, geomorphology and climatology. During that period he obtained in 2001 an inter-university master degree in cartography and remote sensing (ULiège, ULB, UCLouvain). In 2006, Olivier completed a PhD in geography (ULiège) on landslide hazard analysis using remote sensing and statistical modelling approaches. Before joining the RMCA in May 2013, Olivier held postdoc positions at ULiège (2006 – 2008, and 2012), Ghent University (2011-2012) and the Joint Research Centre (DG JRC, Italy) of the European Commission (2008-2011).


Key interests and expertise

  • Earth surface processes and quantitative geomorphology
  • Natural hazard assessment framed around disaster risk reduction strategies
  • Environmental changes and land degradation 
  • Remote sensing applied to ground deformation and hillslope dynamics
  • Specific interest for landslide, flash flood and gully erosion processes
  • Implementation of research strategies in data-scarcity contexts
  • Extensive qualitative and quantitative field experience in Africa
  • Capacity building spirit and cooperation activities


Key Publications

Depicker, A., Jacobs, L., Mboga, N., Smets, B., Van Rompaey, A., Lennert, M., Wolff, E., Kervyn, F., Michellier, C., Dewitte, O. & Govers, G., 2021. Historical dynamics of landslide risk from population and forest-cover changes in the Kivu Rift. Nature Sustainability 4, 965-974.

Dille, A., Kervyn, F., Handwerger, A., d’Oreye, N., Derauw, D., Mugaruka Bibentyo, T., Samsonov, S., Malet, J-P, Kervyn, M., Dewitte, O., 2021. When image correlation is needed: Unravelling the complex dynamics of a slow-moving landslide in the tropics with dense radar and optical time series. Remote Sensing of Environment 258, 112402.

Dewitte, O., Dille, A., Depicker, A., Kubwimana, D., Maki-Mateso, J.-C., Mugaruka Bibentyo, T., Uwihirwe, J., Monsieurs, E., 2021. Constraining landslide timing in a data-scarce context: from recent to very old processes in the tropical environment of the North Tanganyika-Kivu Rift region. Landslides 18, 161-177.    

Dewitte, O., Daoudi, M., Bosco, C., Van Den Eeckhaut M., 2015. Predicting the susceptibility to gully initiation in data-poor regions. Geomorphology 228, 101-115.

Jones, A., Breuning-Madsen, H., Brossard, M., Dampha, A., Deckers, J., Dewitte, O., Gallali, T., Hallett, S., Jones, R., Kilasara, M., Le Roux, P., Micheli, E., Montanarella, L., Spaargaren, O., Thiombiano, L., Van Ranst, E., Yemefack, M., Zougmore, R., (eds.), 2013. Soil Atlas of Africa. European Commission, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg. 176 pp. ISBN 978-92-79-26715-4, doi: 10.2788/52319


Complete list of publications

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