Rwanda serves as the best practice for the countries in the region when it comes to safeguarding the rights of people to own or access land, forests and fisheries, according to a senior official with UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) .
Andrew J. Hilton, the Senior Land Tenure Officer, said: "Rwanda has had remarkable development in the last few years which is very close and in line with the new international voluntary guidelines of land tenure system."
"FAO supported Rwanda during the process and we are pleased with the progress the country has made towards safeguarding the rights of people to own land."
Hilton was speaking to journalists yesterday, on the sidelines of the regional awareness forum on the voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of food security currently underway in Kigali.
Last year, in May, the FAO's Committee on World Food Security endorsed a set of far-reaching global guiding principles aimed at helping governments to protect the rights of people to own or access land, forests and fisheries.
The strategies seeks to promote food security and sustainable development by improving secure access to land, fisheries and forests and protecting the rights of millions of often very vulnerable and poor people.
They address a wide range of issues, including recognition and protection of legitimate tenure rights, even under informal systems, best practices for registration and transfer of tenure rights, making sure that tenure administrative systems are accessible and affordable.
"Rwanda has ensured the proper governance of land tenure by enabling every citizen to access and individually own land," said Eng. Didier Sagashya, Deputy Director General, Lands and Mapping,at the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA).
In 2004, the government enacted an organic law on land to guarantee a safe and stable form of land tenure. Before that, the country never had a proper land policy.
In order to define and decide how the land registration process should be carried out, a Ministerial Decree determining modalities of registration was enacted in 2008 and a year later, land registration process kicked off.
Sagashya explained that land registration process addressed all the challenges to do with land tenure.
RNRA is currently issuing land titles with about seven million titles issued, out of which 4 million have been already collected by owners.
According to Stanislas Kamanzi, the Minister of Natural Resources, Rwanda has also developed a national forestry policy and master plan for fisheries and fish farming as part of the proper governance of land tenure system.
"To ensure security of land tenure for all, our country has implemented the land tenure reform that was developed and adopted in 2008 after three years of trials and process designing," he said.
Moses Shaha, a participant from Kenya, said land tenure system in his country is still not implemented. "We still have challenges of land conflicts and food insecurity."
"The FAO guidelines outline principles and practices that governments can refer to while enactin laws and administering land, fisheries and forests rights which is very crucial to countries in the region," he said.
The two-day meeting brought together members of the private sector, civil society, academia and government officials drawn from 19 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa.