The City of Kigali is considering scaling up of a new model to upgrade informal settlements in the capital in the areas with highest number of unplanned settlements. According to Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority (RLMUA), over 61 per cent of the population in the country currently live in informal settlements. The new model, which has already been implemented along Mpazi drainage in Nyarugenge district, involves contribution of land from the residents on which the housing blocks are built for them meaning that residents are not relocated but rehoused. Merard Mpabwanamaguru, Kigali’s Vice-Mayor in charge of urbanization and infrastructure told The New Times that so, far 37 units have been constructed and 56 units are under construction. “The completed units are accommodating 37 families. We will use the participatory approach to replicate this model in other informal settlements,” adding that Nyarugenge district accommodates the highest number of informal settlements in Kigali. He said that the City of Kigali is analyzing, “the area of Gatsata and one neighborhood of Muhima” where the upgrading model could be replicated. Gatsata sector is located in Gasabo district while Muhima is located in Nyarugenge district. The official said that the time frame to upgrade the areas will depend on the availability of the budget. “The investment depends on every block design given the different parameters such as topography, construction materials’ cost, among others,” he said. In-situ slum up-gradation model Mpabwanamaguru said that the city is considering the using of ‘the in-situ up-gradation, redevelopment, and rehousing schemes’ to upgrade informal settlements in other parts of the city. In situ slum up-gradation means the process of improving the quality or expanding of dwelling spaces occupied by slum dwellers with provision of basic civic and other infrastructure services and includes landscaping. One of the informal settlements that have been upgraded under a $10 million investment, using this approach is Biryogo, Agatare, Kiyovu, and Rwampala said to accommodate 26,000 residents, officials said. The approach seeks to upgrade such slums by encouraging dwellers to upgrade their houses while ‘minimizing recurrent evictions’. After the pilot phase, City of Kigali says, the approach is going to be replicated into other ten cells of Nyarugenge district, three cells of Kicukiro district and two cells of Gasabo district. The upgrading model sets up basic infrastructure such as water, roads, disaster control infrastructure, electricity and others to pave the way for residents to upgrade their houses and do businesses. What is the new master plan considering? The new master plan introduces a flexible and incremental approach to city development as it seeks to accommodate 3.8 million population in 2050 from the current 1.6 million population. The new master plan has allowed flexibility in building affordable residential houses. It will also allow improvement of unplanned settlements without necessarily relocating residents. Auxiliary residential units are allowed where a house owner can annex other small houses in smart ways that can help low income earners. Contrary to the previous master plan, the new master plan has allowed flexibility where one building can be used for different purposes. This means that one house can combine commercial activities, residence, restaurants, office and others at once to ensure integration. Residents in informal settlements have lauded, “the rehousing and In situ Slum Up-gradation schemes saying they couldn’t afford the upgrading cost alone. “We have seen that some families are not evicted but are helped to get decent housing by contributing their land. This is a good approach for a person like me who can’t afford the upgrading cost as we earn less. We wish it is scaled up in Kimisagara sector. This is an area that is prone to floods and decent and resilient housing is needed,” said Phocus Ruremesha, a resident of Gitega said. According to an assessment of the city of Kigali, 58 per cent of Kigalis current 1.6 million residents earn less than Rwf100, 000. Emilienne Uwanyirigira, another resident in Gitega sector of Nyarugenge district added that there is need for upgrading unplanned settlements by considering spaces that can allow dwellers to do small businesses. “We need both decent housing but also business environment because despite being informal settlements, areas like Cyahafi was enabling low income earners to conduct some small and viable businesses,” she said. According to city, among the proposals, residents who live in slums where they own land can give the land to investors for development. After completing a building, the investor can give part or unit of the building to the plot provider.