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Building Community Resilience through Support for Land Policy in Rwanda

The LAND project worked to build the capacity of Rwandan institutions to deliver high-quality, evidence-based research that informs land policy and to broaden citizens’ understanding of the legal framework governing land and access to justice.
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 built 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 was 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 was 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 promised 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 nurtured success on all these fronts.

Project Results
  • Partnered with the Rwandan Natural Resources Authority (RNRA) and Esri Rwanda to develop Africa’s first national land use planning portal (NLUPP) 
  • Disseminated 1,700 cell-level land use maps, contributing to increased transparency and compliance with official land use guidelines
  • Supported four Rwandan universities, research institutes, and civil society organizations to carry out rigorous empirical research that informed land policy
  • Partnered with Radio Ishingiro, Radio Haguka, and Radio Isangano to implement a communications campaign that promoted gender-equal rights to land and property
  • Collaborated with the Rwandan government to draft and/or review 20 land-related legal instruments

Project Duration: 2012 - 2016

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