Soil-loss estimation is a necessary prerequisite in agricultural planning. Current techniques which rely on soil-loss measurement from field plots as their main data base hold many disadvantages for application in developing tropical countries. In order to utilize local experience and a small data base, a new framework for deriving prediction models, the Soil-Loss Estimation Model for Southern Africa (SLEMSA), was developed. The framework has been used to build a prediction model for the Zimbabwean Highveld. The paper outlines the structure of SLEMSA, points out its very significant advantages and describes the development phases of the Highveld Model. SLEMSA's approach and methodology have ready application to other developing countries by those concerned about their rapidly diminishing soil resources.