Rural settlement in Rwanda

An assessment of land management and livelihoods

Human settlement in Rwanda has been a challenge for a long time, and, prior to 2004, the country had never had a coherent policy in place.

Residential land is scarce due to hilly terrain, a high population and a focus on agricultural growth to address food security concerns. Various other factors, including low incomes, absence of support from government structures and incentive mechanisms, contributed to the expansion of unplanned, health endangering residential areas in urban centres, bad management of land and environmental degradation. The situation worsened following the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which brought about, among other things, extensive destruction of houses and infrastructure, leading to thousands of Rwandans becoming homeless.

To address these concerns, the government embarked upon a resettlement programme to regroup people into planned residential areas, ‘imidugudu’, the aim of which is to provide improved quality of life for the population through the satisfaction of basic needs, such as employment, adequate housing, access to water and energy, a cleaned-up environment, access to basic facilities such as markets and health services, as well as safety and order in public places and in households.