As in most countries in Africa, land in Rwanda is one of the primary livelihood assets of rural citizens. With the highest population density in Africa, land in Rwanda is even more precious for communities —and often a source of conflict. It is critical to adapt land policy to rapidly changing social and economic realities to enable Rwanda to continue on its promising trajectory of growth and poverty reduction. This flexibility is possible only if policy-makers can draw on reliable evidence to inform their decisions.
The Rwanda LAND project builds Rwandan institutions’ capacity to research land-related issues, thereby expanding the pool of relevant data and analysis on high-priority concerns such maintenance of the land registration system, land use consolidation, expropriation, and upholding the land rights of women and vulnerable populations. This work is combined with efforts to enhance citizens’ understanding of laws governing land and encourage them to participate in shaping the policy environment. Another important facet of the LAND project is supporting local mediation committees’ capacity to effectively resolve disputes over land.
Early in the project, a series of meetings was held to identify opportunities for closer collaboration among the government, civil society, and the research community. Following the meetings, a workshop brought diverse stakeholders together to identify the high-priority research areas that the project will support.
The transition to an adaptive policy-making model informed by evidence-based research promises to support Rwanda’s reputation as a leader in land governance. Research on the potential implications and development of pilot models for testing new policy directions enhance implementation of land policies. Successful implementation also depends on a citizenry who understand their responsibilities and rights — as well as the processes for claiming those rights and skilled dispute resolution actors who can draw on the law to administer justice. Through technical assistance, support for locally generated policy research, training activities, outreach, and fostering opportunities for collaboration among stakeholders, the LAND project is poised to nurture success on all these fronts.