Housing is a cross-cutting human rights issue that goes beyond structures, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing at the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Raquel Rolnik, has said.
She was speaking yesterday during a tour of Nyagatovu model village in Kayonza District, Eastern Province.
"Housing is not just about bringing up buildings...it cuts across a number of issues mainly infrastructure development. It is a human right. Just like health and education, housing is not a privilege, but a people's right which they must enjoy."
The UN Commissioner toured the village, and had a chat with residents as well as grassroots leaders before briefing the media.
Rolnik, an architect and university professor from Brazil, told The New Times that every country had its unique housing issues.
"I don't compare countries because they tend to have great differences. But I am so far impressed by Rwanda's capacity of organisation and implementation of programmes."
"I was invited by Rwanda and will present my findings to the UN... The spirit is to contribute to a better future".
She said Rwanda was her first country to visit in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Nyagatovu is a model home settlement constructed under the Integrated Development Programme (IDP), one of the country's poverty reduction initiatives premised on concentrating families and their resources to improve productivity and deliver services more effectively, thereby boosting incomes.
Emmanuel Mugabo, an official from the Ministry of Local Government and Social Affairs, said the system of settling people into organised villages, commonly known as Imidugudu, was paying off.
Rolnik is on a nine-day visit to Rwanda, from July 5 to 13.
She is expected to meet with several officials and human rights groups to discuss issues concerning the country's housing priorities.
"This will be a great opportunity to look into how the most densely populated nation in Africa is managing land and housing issues in a way that takes into account equality and non-discrimination," Rolnik said in a statement, in reference to Rwanda.
"It is paramount that allocation of land and housing does not result in injustices that impede the reconciliation that Rwanda has long been striving for," he added.
Rolnik was appointed as Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination by the UN Human Rights Council in 2008.
Her mandate was renewed in 2011.