Rwanda: the long-term impact of land registration for climate action

In a call for more support for land registration in Africa, the case study of Rwanda is emblematic: the Land Tenure Regularisation Programme (LTRP) is having a long-term impact on mitigation and adaptation to climate change by land owners. Today, Rwanda is ranked second in the world in terms of registering property (World Bank Doing Business Report 2019).

Once people have security of tenure and feel they own the land, they invest in the protection of that land. This enables them to put forward actions for climate change mitigation and adaptation, like planting trees, constructing anti-erosion measures such as using trenches and terracing, and gaining access to finance by using their land as collateral.

rwanda
©GCCA+ EU 

At the end of 2014, 10.67 million parcels of land had been demarcated and 8.6 million land titles issued to owners in Rwanda at a cost of USD 6 per registered parcel over a 5-year period. This was achieved through the LTRP which cost USD 70 million, of which EUR 4 million was contributed by the European Commission through the GCCA+.

Evidence from a pilot area in Rwanda showed that households which obtained land titles through LTRP were almost 10 % more likely to make or maintain soil-conservation investments in structures such as bunds, terraces and check dams.

 

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Trenches ©GCCA+ EU/ MINAGRI
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Terraces ©GCCA+ EU/ MINAGRI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All this started in 2000, when the Rwandan government adopted Vision 2020 which aimed to transform the country into a middle-income nation by 2020. Many reforms were required in all sectors, including the environment and land. In 2004, the government passed two major policies: the National Environment Policy and the National Land Policy. These policies proposed regulatory and institutional reforms and included programmes to ensure environmental protection and conservation, climate change, and included a green growth strategy as a top priority.

In 2008, a strategic roadmap for land tenure reform proposed how to implement the LTRP, through systematic land registration for all parcels in Rwanda, ranging from demarcation using aerial orthophotos to the issuance of printed land titles, ensuring significant participation from the community in this process, including many women.

Currently, a modern Land Administration Information System (LAIS) is used as an electronic land registry for 11.4 million parcels and handles all land-related transactions. It also supports other services such as banks for e-mortgage registration, the national identification system, a construction permit system, tax collection, etc.

Support or regularisation of security of tenure and land registration in Africa pays off because a long-term impact can be expected from landowners investing in climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. Tanzania and Zambia are good example of countries that are ahead in terms of preparations for a programme similar to that undertaken in Rwanda.