New project to curb land wrangles

A new project by the Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development was launched in Muhanga, yesterday, and is expected to bring down the alarming number of land-related cases that courts are bogged down with.

A new project by the Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development was launched in Muhanga, yesterday, and is expected to bring down the alarming number of land-related cases that courts are bogged down with.

At least 46 per cent of court cases are related to land wrangles, a recent study conducted by Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD) shows.

The report, released yesterday, indicates that out of 13,101 cases in several courts in ten sampled districts, about 6,060 of these cases constituting 46 per cent were land related disputes.

The figures are derived from the pilot phase of the ‘Securing Land Rights program’ that commenced in March last year and the developments were made public during the official launch, yesterday, of  the new project which aims at equipping Rwandans with knowledge on land laws with the use of local mediators (Abunzi) in solving land wrangles.

The major cause of land disputes in Rwanda is high population density, where many people scramble for small pieces of land. The disputes end up in courts. Most of those cases are related to inheritance, land transaction disputes and polygamy.

“Kamonyi district came up with majority of the cases related to inheritance. However the major cause of these misunderstandings is lack of knowledge on land related laws. We found that 74 per cent Rwandans in 10 districts lack knowledge of land-related laws,” said Alphonse Muhire from RISD.

Solutions

Justice minister Tharcisse Karugarama officiated at the launch of the Rwf674m project.

The project will spread out countrywide and according to the minister, by solving land disputes, many other related problems, such as murder, are solved.

Rwanda is famously known for initiating home grown solutions to tackle some of the post-genocide challenges, and according to Karugarama, government, together with RISD, opted to use the mediators in solving the land disputes.

“Everyone should look at this new initiative in a bigger perspective. In a broader sense, if you solve a land dispute, you have as well solved all other wrangles that come along with it. This is why we opt to use our home-grown mechanisms in handling such problems,” Karugarama said.

Most of the land disputes came to light when government initiated nationwide land registration exercises through the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority.

Annie Kairaba, the director of RISD, said, “When government started land registration, people also started getting a notion of their rights to land and this new programme will look into solving land disputes, educating people, and planning on how future disputes can be handled.”

Currently, there are about 30,000 Abunzi countrywide and, according to Kairaba, they will be part of the project.

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