New Rwanda land cover scheme to be released, more land to be allocated to agriculture

On 28 January 2020 at 10:56

In 2011, the government of Rwanda released a land cover scheme that was set to facilitate the analysis and usefulness of land, water as well as the nature of constraints placed on agricultural growth. However, land as the most valuable natural resource in Rwanda and the engine of its economy continuously succumbs under the pressure of rapid urbanization and population growth.

Rwanda aspires to become an upper middle-income country by 2035 and higher income by 2050 where Income per capita is expected to be $12476 annually. It is a highly ambitious goal that will require effective land use to be achieved as Rwanda’s economy partially relies on agriculture.

The 2011 land cover scheme was developed for use until 2020 but its objectives were unfortunately not reached.

In November 2019, the Ministry of Environment through Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority (RLMUA) entered a partnership with Tzamir Architects and Planners Ltd from Israel and Horwath Htl Intercosult to develop a new land cover scheme that will replace the one of 2011. RLMUA announced the scheme was in its completion phase and will be in line with the ‘Vision2050’ goal as it will analyze trends in the use of land and other resources.

Regarding population settlements, the new land use scheme will provide details about types of cities according to the density of population and development activities contributing to the livelihoods of residents.

The government of Rwanda predicts an improvement in the urban share of population by 70% in 2050 from 20% recorded in 2019.

Although the City of Kigali will remain the capital city of Rwanda, the land use scheme predicts the potential for neighboring cities to develop. Those cities include Muhanga, Nyamata, and Rwamagana as well as cities close to border posts including Nyagatare, Musanze, Rubavu, Karongi, Rusizi, Huye, Kirehe and Kayonza. For developing the remaining cities, the government will invest in agriculture and trade activities.

The land use scheme also presents an area increment chart where some cities will be expanded by 16% of their total area. The number of villages in Rwanda will reduce from 13,000 to only 4000 villages.

RUTAGENGWA Alexis, Head of Surveying, Land Use and Mapping Department at RLMUA told IGIHE that the new land scheme will be a consolidated source of data that will allow Rwandans to settle in cities according to their financial capacity.
‘The land scheme will help the government of Rwanda to monitor its limited resources of land, add value to its development planning and will be used by citizens to register land ownership.”

More high-rise building will be built in Kigali while in rural areas, the scheme predicts more public housing facilities with access to water, electricity, sewage and other infrastructures. In addition, land parcels and their ownership will be readjusted to allow effective land consolidation.

The land use scheme also incorporates transport routes including railways.
60% of Rwandans are in agriculture but agriculture only contributes to 30% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The government of Rwanda plans on improving agriculture to meet the needs of an estimated 22 million population in 2050. Currently, agricultural land is 48% of the country’s total area.

To achieve this, the land scheme will allocate a large part of the Eastern and South-Eastern to agriculture due to the abundance of arable land fit for irrigation and crop rotation.

Rutagengwa said the only way the new land use scheme will be effective is to promote land consolidation. “land consolidation will facilitate the adoption of new agricultural technologies leading to a more prosperous and efficient agricultural sector.”

Currently, 30.4% of Rwanda’s total area is allocated to agroforestry. The scheme encourages continuous forest conservation.

RUTAGENGWA Alexis, Head of Surveying, Land Use and Mapping Department at RLMUA
The 2011 land cover scheme was developed for use until 2020 but its objectives were unfortunately not reached.