People in rural areas still lack ownership of the Land Law because its content was not disseminated enough among communities even if its provisions directly affect them.
This was highlighted yesterday in a validation meeting of the findings of a research that was carried out by the umbrella of organisations supporting local initiatives; CCOAIB in the groups French acronyms.
The organisation called for a collective responsibility to create awareness of the law content.
The new land law enacted in June this year is still too recent to create a big impact on the citizen, but CCOAIB said they carried out research to assess the challenges and opportunities of the law on communities, especially residents of rural areas.
Their research was carried out in September among 300 respondents in the districts of Bugesera, Rulindo, Kamonyi and Kigali suburbs. It indicates that 78 percent regard the law as a government concern that is yet to be undertood by ordinary people.
Respondents said the law was put in place to ensure the supremacy of the government over their land. The State should indeed have that supremacy but the people should get the sense of it,” said Joseph Rwicaninyoni, a consultant who carried out the research.
“Citizens have a vague knowledge of some of the provisions that have a direct impact on them, thus hindering the effective conservation of land”.
More than 18 percent of respondents in the survey consider that they and the government own the law, while four percent believe it’s a citizen-oriented law.
According to Juvénal Musine, Executive Secretary of Imbaraga, an umbrella of farmers associations, the expropriation right is another thing that rural residents still need to know.
“We have a case of a dam for rice irrigation in Bugarama marshland (Western Province) where surrounding farmers were not compensated for their affected land,” he said.
Musine said the same applies to areas that have industrial farming such as the extension of tea plantation in Nyaruguru, Southern Province.
“Some families have been getting Rwf 1.7m for a hectare. With this money, they can’t get another piece of land anywhere; we are afraid that the poor compensation would end up leaving the country with more landless people,” he warned.
Opportunities offered by the law
The research assessed the inclusiveness of the land law and found that, indeed, it covered many gaps that were left out by the amended law of 2005.
Despite some challenges of lack of awareness, some members in the community already know that after registration and acquisition of a land title, it can be used as collateral to apply for a bank loan.
They also understand the equal share of the property among family members without any gender-based discrimination.
CCOAIB recommended to central government, local governments, the civil society and other government partners to play their respective roles in publicising the land law through the media and face-to-face meetings with citizens.
“Land should be given the same attention as other challenges here because it is very important. We should give it the same attention we give the fight against diseases and security concerns,” suggested Innocent Rulinda, the president of CCOAIB.
Didier Sagashya, the Deputy Director General of National Land Centre, told this newspaper that the Ministry of Natural Resources has approved recommendations from the civil society about land law awareness.