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LAND-at-scale helps manage land rights in Rwanda

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When you think of food security and equal rights, you probably do not think of land rights. But managing land rights is important in reaching these 2 goals. With the LAND-at-scale programme, Kadaster International helps Rwanda manage land rights. This organisation is part of Kadaster, the Netherlands’ Cadastre, Land Registry and Mapping Agency.

Christelle van den Berg is Kadaster International’s regional manager for Africa. "Food security and equal rights for women are top priorities for the Rwandan government," she says. "But the government needs more knowledge and skills. The LAND-at-scale programme makes it possible to take the next step." 

Land administration and land use

In Africa, land is often handed down within families in the traditional way, from one man to another. Most of the time, there are no records to show who owns how much land or which particular piece of land. But when you want to fight poverty, you need a way to register who owns the land. 

Proof of ownership

An important document for landowners is a deed. This is a piece of paper that proves you own your land. Without a deed, banks will not lend you money. “If you have a deed, you can invest in machinery. You can also make arrangements to divide the land more precisely. This will improve your harvest, which means greater food security and more money,” Christelle van den Berg says.

Improving women’s rights

Land registration is also vital for the women who need the land to stay alive. “In Rwanda, women are often the ones who work the land and provide food. But because only men can inherit land, women can never own the land,” Christelle van den Berg explains. Effective land registration helps to ensure that women are not forced off of their land when their husbands die.

Software system for land registration

The Netherlands’ Kadaster shares its knowledge and experience with countries like Rwanda. In 2008, Kadaster worked with the Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority to develop a software system for land registration. The Authority mapped out and recorded around 11 million pieces of land in the system so far.

The current problem is that the Authority does not have enough ICT knowledge. It cannot find IT staff. This makes it challenging to maintain the system. Christelle van den Berg explains, “The LAND-at-scale programme solves this problem. We started the programme in Rwanda in August 2021, together with the Dutch embassy and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.”

Protecting knowledge

The LAND-at-scale programme also helps protect essential knowledge about land administration and land use. One of the ways to do this is through better training courses. “Once we protect that knowledge, we will have a sustainable system that ensures clear land rights,” says Christelle van den Berg. “I hope that everyone in Rwanda will have access to land rights soon, at a price they can afford.”

Kadaster is now also looking at ways to develop a planning process for land use. This new process will consider factors such as the effects of climate change.

More information

Read more about the LAND-at-scale programme, or sign up for the LAND-at-scale quarterly newsletter to stay updated.

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