21 February 2019

Rwanda: New Land Use Master Plan to Be Released in July

The national land use and habitat master plan, which has been under review since October 2018 is set to be released in July this year, increasing the prospects of fixing the prevailing challenges related to unplanned settlements.

Presenting a report on the national land use and habitat plan, the Chairperson of the Senatorial Standing Committee on Economic Development and Finance, Jacqueline Muhongayire, said that during their field trips, they discovered wide raging issues that need to be fixed in order to achieve the country's 2050 plan for organised settlement and land utilisation.

"The original plan to build cities through a phasing plan and house densification, which is a transformative process of building high rise multi-family housing but all that was disregarded," she said.

Muhongayire disclosed that while government seeks to have 80 per cent of the population living in modern villages to reduce congestion by 2050, most districts are approving construction projects that undermine such efforts.

With an estimated population of 12 million people, Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries, which call for properly planned settlement in order to decongest some areas.

"The size of Rwanda has not changed and we are still densely populated at 500 people per every square kilometre and a population increase of 300,000 people per year. The issue of rapid population growth is real and must be taken seriously," he said.

Senator Jean-Damascène Ntawukiriryayo proposed that government should hire more local experts to interprete the masterplan if the mistakes are not to be repeated.

"As we await the new masterplan, we need to suspend any activities that are contradicting the old one. Some people have ignored what was stipulated in the plans and continue to put up structures. These activity permits were issued by people who did not understand the matter at hand. What we require is a critical mass of people who are conversant with this," he said.

Senator Perrine Mukankusi wondered who should be handed the responsibility to clean up the mess in the land and settlement area.

"We need to find a way to have all the errors that were made rectified. There has been an issue of poor coordination which is the root cause of most of the land issues in the country. Who do we hand the responsibility to fix this since there are so many stakeholders," she wondered.

The 2011 master plan indicated various features such as ecosystems management, population distribution and development of networks for rural and urban settlements, social services and infrastructure, and protected areas such as wetlands.

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