Urban Planning and Housing Development




Since 1962, urban land use management did not receive much attention, and after the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, there was an emergency in resettlement of displaced people and returnees. This resulted in unplanned urban settlement, uncontrolled urban expansion and inefficient use of land.


However, Rwanda takes exemplary strides in terms of urban governance, including land management and administration. After adoption of a new Land Policy in 2004, a significant decision was consequently taken and all land ownership regularized, integrating it under one land management system through the implementation of the Land Tenure Regularization Programme. The program was designed to help reduce poverty, increase productive investment, and optimize land use and support gender equality and social harmony. The reforms target the rational use of land resources, and sustainable production, including the sustainable use of wetlands.


The responsibilities between different sectors have been laid out in a way that cross-sectoral collaboration between land, urban planning, settlement planning, infrastructure planning and economic planning are enhanced through national and local institutional coordination arrangements.


The National Land Use and Development Master Plan of 2010, provides the general directives for land use development and presents guiding principles for the future development of the country in regard to socio-economics, infrastructure, environment and land administration. With the help of the Law Governing Urban Planning and Building in Rwanda, 2012 and its implementing orders from 2015, local physical development is regulated based on clear procedures to support sustainable, integral and inclusive development, institutional strengthening and development, decentralization, local economic development, citizen participation and accountability mechanisms. The law and its orders provides for master plan on land management and urban planning, local and specific land development plan and land subdivision plan both aiming at improving the urban land use management and avoiding uncontrolled urban expansion or sprawls. Anchored are the participatory plan elaboration processes, and the legal basis for development management including at neighbourhood and plot level.


The Urbanisation and Rural Sector Strategic Plan 2013-18 (SSP) develops the objectives of good development management and of spatial distribution of growth, and translates them into two high level priorities. The below priorities from the Sector Strategy are in support of sustainable urban planning and design:

?    Improve the urban and rural settlement development planning and management system;
?    Develop secondary cities as poles of growth
?    Develop urban and rural settlements around economic activities;
?    Establish financing and supply options for affordable housing;
?    Collaborate with the private sector;
?    Build institutional and human capacity in the urbanization and rural settlement sector.


Urban upgrading is supported by the SSP and the National Housing Policy as an important strategy to tap existing and future land and property equity. The upgrading of urban neighbourhoods is seen in support of the opportunity to provide hubs of mixed use economic opportunities for urban dwellers. The Housing Policy highly emphasises on urban upgrading as a means to maintain and expand existing housing stock, which is particularly affordable to people.