Securing Land Rights Project: A Working Paper on Land Tenure Regularization in Rwanda

December 2013
Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development (Annie Kairaba and Samuel Shearer)

There is a distinct gap between conceptions of land deployed by the Land Tenure Regularization Program (LTRP) framework and the law and how rural Rwandans perceive and use land. Argues that land mediates relationships between people and any attempt to transform land must also take into account these relationships. Many people have left their titles at the registration office because of prohibitive fees and taxes. Over 85% of open land disputes are on parcels that have already been registered through LTRP, while registration is activating latent disputes and creating new disputes. Access to land is becoming more precarious and people are losing a sense of belonging. Inheritance is the single most frequent cause of land disputes. Far from streamlining dispute resolution, the LTRP appears to have done the opposite. Entire families are losing their access to land through the registration process. Found that the Abunzis (local mediators) were unclear about the land laws but were the ideal actors to bridge the gaps. The banks have no use for land or land titles. Concludes that despite all the problems listed, a land titling program like the LTRP is urgently needed in Rwanda.