Rwanda initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD) yesterday signed an indefinite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ombudsman’s Office to jointly fight land-related injustices and monitor implementation of land reform programs.
The new alliance will see RISD which has experience in implementing strategies to solve land disputes at local levels, join efforts with the Office of the Ombudsman which has among its mandate prevention and fighting against injustices.
According to the Ombudsman’s office, land related disputes constitute about 90 percent of the total cases they deal with. And, with land being the engine for Rwanda’s economic and political development, any such disputes only slow down the country’s development process.
“We are convinced that in order to intervene effectively, there is need to partner with civil society organizations like RISD, given its long experience in the area of land-related research, and land related technical dispute management,” Tito Rutaremara, Rwanda’s Ombudsman said after the signing.
As part of Rwanda’s Land Tenure Regularization Process (LTRP), RISD successfully completed the implementation of the pilot phase of the Land Dispute Management Project (LDMP) in 2008 in the districts of Gasabo and Musanze.
During this phase, local institutions including mediators, land commissions and land committees were strengthened in managing-land related disputes appropriately and fairly. RISD also carried out public information awareness on land rights and obligations.
In 2009, RISD used the pilot phase experience and worked in ten more districts. Over the next two years, it has committed to rolling out the programs to all the 30 districts in close partnership with the Ombudsman office.
“If the local institutions have the right skills and knowledge to manage land related disputes and the population is aware of their rights and obligations, then the Rwanda National Land Reform process will be successful, peaceful and just, which is a critical path to sustainable development,” Bishop Nathan Gasatura, the chairperson of RISD’s board of directors, said.
The Ombudsman further noted that RISD and the Ombudsman will focus their partnership on programs that will enable Rwandans understand the laws and regulations related to land, while paying special attention to protecting the land rights of women, children and other vulnerable groups.