The New Times (Kigali)

17 May 2014

Rwanda: Clerics Urged to Support Land Dispute Mediation

A report by Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD) has urged clerics to leverage the respect they command in society by mediating land-related disputes.

This follows a survey conducted in Musanze and Kamonyi districts that found minimal participation of religious leaders in settling land-related issues.

The participation of religious leaders would help reduce the number of cases that end up at the mediators' committees, commonly known as Abunzi, it says.

The report, sponsored by UN Rwanda and the European Union, aimed at finding out whether institutions like the family are recognised and supported to deal with land-related disputes.

The report added that other civil society organisations should also be active partners in seeking solutions to the land disputes.

It was further stressed that civil society organisations have a big role in strengthening mediation institutions by creating public awareness, clarifying and building the capacity of the mediators, among others.

"We believe if more focus was put on strengthening mediation from the grassroots, land reforms in Rwanda would be more fruitful," said Bishop Nathan Gasatura, the chairperson of RISD.

"We are also delighted with the findings and hope this will help us continue with our quest to build peaceful communities for sustainable development," he said.

The study was part of a one-year project aimed at empowering civil society groups and Abunzi to mediate land disputes.

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