Jointed rock masses, adverse lithological sequences, often deeply-weathered soil profiles, seasonal rainfall, stream erosion and seismicity have created conditions favourable to the development of landslides in many parts of Ethiopia. Large, deep-seated landslides occupy many hillsides and some may date from the late Pleistocene–mid Holocene. Others are more recent and their activity is controlled by rainfall and, in some cases, the effects of land use change and road construction and widening schemes. The road network of Ethiopia has been expanding significantly over recent decades and has been impacted in many areas by reactivated ground movements and new, first-time failures. The Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) has undertaken a number of initiatives to combat these problems, including a research programme aimed at developing mitigation designs for 118 locations on the federal road network of the country. Engineering geological mapping formed the cornerstone of the geotechnical investigations, together with targeted trial pitting, drilling and geophysical investigations, that allowed remedial options to be scheduled. Nevertheless, geotechnical uncertainty prevailed at several locations, especially where ground investigation was precluded by budget constraints. A pragmatic approach had to be applied to the construction contract documentation that made provision for confirmatory ground investigation prior to design finalization and geotechnical inspection and interpretation during construction.

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