KIGALI - The UK Department for International Development (DfID) has granted £20 million for the next phase of the land tenure regularization.
Given that Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa, the pressure on the land is likely to increase. 60% of farms are less than 0.7 ha, which is just a little smaller than a football pitch.
In other words, land is important to the vast majority of Rwandans.
It is in this perspective that the UK Department for International Development (DfID) has granted the National Land Center, through the ministry of finance, a sum £20 million to support the implementation of the next phase of the land reform legislation.
According to Emmanuel Nkurunziza, director general of the National Land Center and the Registrar of Land Titles, with the first phase of British support, new land legislation has been developed and approved.
“This has allowed the National Land Center to develop and test a new approach to land tenure regularization in Rwanda, leading to the strategic road map for land reform, which was adopted by cabinet in March 2008.
With the second phase support, we will work on the national roll-out of the land tenure and regularization program” Nkurunziza explained.
The right to private property is embedded in the constitution and land reform is prioritized in EDPRS.
However, Nkurunziza remarked that still much needs to be done in the process of land registration - only 1, 2% of the whole land is registered - demarcation and land consolidation.
The DfID grant covers a period of five years time, and part of it will be used to train land officers in the first two years at different levels including districts and sectors.
According to Martin Leach, the head of DfID Rwanda/Burundi, the organization has since 2002 provided £3 million to support the government in the land reforms.
“Our support over the next five years will enable the National Land Center to take the work to a national level.
Every landholder in Rwanda can receive a legal title, and nearly eight million parcels will be mapped and registered through a community-based process of land tenure regularization,” Leach said.
He further remarked that regularization process is fundamental for the fair distribution of land and for sustainable economic growth.
“It will also build confidence for investments in economic development and combat land degradation,” the DFID head added.
Finance Minister James Musoni for his part said that the money allocated in the land tenure regularization will also help to solve many long-standing disputes and protect the rights of all landholders in Rwanda.
“This will particularly benefit poor people, because after they are registered and possess title deeds, they can use the land as collateral to get loans,” Musoni pointed out.
The land tenure regularization will also strengthen women’s ability to assert their land rights.
The 2005 land law states that any discrimination based on either sex or origin in matters relating ownership or possession of rights over the land is prohibited.
The wife and the husband have equal rights over the land much as it provides also titles in the name both husband and wife.