Over the last decade, the Government of Rwanda (GoR) has engaged in reforming the land sector through formulation and enactment of an enabling legal framework, establishment of land administration institutions, and land tenure regularization. In 2008, the GoR initiated the Land Tenure Regularization Program (LTRP) with two main objectives: (1) to ensure secure forms of land tenure for citizens and (2) to ensure efficient management and administration of land. The program set up procedures to carry out first-time systematic registration of land in the names of its owners with the aim of creating a complete public record of landholdings.
Based on the National Land Policy of 2004, the envisaged benefits of having a good land administration were included increased security of tenure through clearly and definitively established property rights; reduction of land disputes; open and flexible land market in both urban and rural areas; increased access to credit by ordinary citizens; increased investment on land and improvement of land productivity; augmented government revenue through the collection of land taxes; efficient and decentralized land administration institutions; improved land administration and management through the use of land information; and improved physical planning through the use of a cadastral system. The LTRP substantially concluded in 2013, resulting in the demarcation of about 10.3 million parcels, encompassing the vast majority of private land in Rwanda. This program, seen as ambitious, has become a model for other countries (Ayalew et al, 2012).
Under the Land Law of 2013, all landholders must formally register their land, implying that all land transactions must be registered in the name of the party(ies) acquiring the land for their rights to be upheld. Beginning in January 2010, the GoR launched the Land Administration Information System (LAIS) and migrated data on systematically registered parcels into the system. Under the LAIS, District Land Officer (DLO) are responsible for preparing documents evidencing land transactions for submission to the Registrar of Land Titles, which in turn is responsible for issuing leasehold certificates, widely referred to as “titles.” DLBs are also charged with monitoring land surveying, valuation, and land use (GoR, 2013).
In order for the government to adequately appreciate the effectiveness of the land administration system and resulting certificates of rights, as well as take measures to maximize its effectiveness and accessibility to ordinary citizens, research is needed to better understand the extent to which citizens: 1) are aware of the system and the reasons for registering transactions, and know how to use the system; 2) have easy access to the system in terms of time, procedures, cost, and documentation; and 3) experience the intended outcomes of possessing a land certificate.
The goal of the study on “Access to the Land Tenure Administration System in Rwanda and the Outcomes of the System on Ordinary Citizens” was to build on and improve current knowledge on the above, using evidence-based assessments and analysis of data collected from surveys of ordinary citizens and different stakeholders involved in land administration.