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Rwanda (2020)

National Land Policy

The policy is premised in the National Strategy for transformation one (NST1). Its main objective is to Strengthen land administration and management to ensure optimal allocation and use of land. This will include rationalization and harmonization of land use master plans at both national and districts level. This will be supported by a fully functioning Land Administration Information System (LAIS).

The policy provides for land tenure systems, guiding principles of land management, an effective & efficient land registry, and land transactions. According to the National Land Policy, all Rwandese enjoy the same rights of access to land, implying no discrimination against women. All land should be registered for security.

The National Land Policy specifies that marshlands are a special category of public land and their use, for those earmarked for it, must be done in the form of concession. All marshlands must be governed by a special legislation which must be vigorously enforced. Marshlands meant for agriculture should not be cultivated except after adequate planning and environmental impact assessment.


Land Tenure System and Provisions in Rwanda

The Land Use Master Plan (Land law No 43/2013 of 16/06/2013, article 6) states that all types of land tenure must follow the designated land use. The organic land law provides two types of formal land tenure: full ownership/ freehold and long-term leasehold. As a result of the recent privatization of State-owned lands, many land users don’t hold either type of land tenure. As a result of this, the Organic Land Law recognizes existing rights, whether written or unwritten, under both civil law and customary practices through new national land tenure arrangements. Article 7 of the law formalizes land ownership, especially those acquired through customary means should be registered. In such cases, populations with customary/indigenous land rights are being encouraged to register their land through decentralized District Land Bureau, Sector Land Committees and Cell Land Committees.

Rwandan Constitution of 2003 revised in 2015, the National Land Policy of 2004 and the Organic Land Law of 2005 all incorporated land ownership and gave it a formal legal basis. The Land Tenure Regularization (LTR) programme was established to register and administer land ownership in Rwanda. The titling began officially in 2009. The land registration process successfully completed the recording of 10.4 million parcels of land into the national land registry by 2012. The land titles provide for full equal rights to both wife and husband, through the systematic land registration process. Article 20 of the law governing land in Rwanda which was enacted in June 2013 states that registering land is mandatory for anyone (who owns it).

In any case of Government program or projects, the government is obliged to full expropriation and compensation of the affected land in accordance with the national expropriation law (Article 26 of the Expropriation Law N° 32/2015 of 11/06/2015) and the World Bank requirements under ESS5 and AfDB OS 2. In Rwanda there is no customary ownership of land, every landowner has a land tittle provided by the Rwanda land use and management authority (RLUMA). For this particular project all affected landowners have land tittles and will be fully compensated for their affected land.


The National Gender Policy, 2010

The Vision of the National Gender Policy is to set the Rwandan society free from all forms of gender-based discrimination and see both men and women participate fully and enjoy equitably from the development processes. The main mission of this policy is to contribute to the elimination of gender inequalities in all sectors of national life, in order to achieve the nation’s goal for sustainable development. Resettlement activities for the fund will involve and affect both men and women in terms of loss of property and both genders are expected to be treated equally thus this policy will be pertinent.


Important National Resettlement Regulations

Rwanda has numerous legal and policy framework relating to land and resettlement activities.

- The Constitution of Rwanda as amended in 2015

The Constitution of Rwanda, Article 11 stipulates that all Rwandans are born and remain free and equal in rights and duties. Discrimination of whatever kind based on, inter alia, ethnic origin, tribe, clan, colour, sex, region, social origin, religion or faith, opinion, economic status, culture, language, social status, physical or mental disability or any other form of discrimination is prohibited and punishable by law.

Rwandan Constitution recognizes that every person has a right to private property whether personal or owned in association with others (Article 29). The private property, whether individually or collectively owned is inviolable. The right to property may not be interfered with except in public interest, in circumstances and procedures determined by law and subject to fair and prior compensation.

Under Article 30, it is stipulated that private ownership of land and other rights related to land are granted by the State. The law specifies the modalities of acquisition, transfer and use of land. Exceptionally, the right to property may be overruled in the case of public interest. In these cases, circumstances and procedures are determined by the law and subject to fair and prior compensation (Article 29). Laws on property are also found in various legal texts of Rwanda. Eligibility for compensation is also enshrined under the Rwandan constitution and the Expropriation Law.

- Expropriation Law in the Public interest

The law No. 32/2015 of 11/06/2015 related to expropriation in the public interests determines the procedures relating to expropriation of land in the interest of the public. Article 3 of the law stipulates that it is only the government that has authority to carry out expropriation. However, the project, at any level, which intends to carry out acts of expropriation in the public interest, shall provide funds for inventory of assets of the person to be expropriated and for just compensation on its budget.

According to the organic law, no person shall hinder the implementation of the program of expropriation on pretext of self-centred justifications and no landowner shall oppose any underground or surface activity carried out on his or her land with an aim of public interest. In case it causes any loss to him or her, he or she shall receive fair and just compensation for it. The law identifies properties to be valued for just and fair compensation including land and activities that were carried out on the land such as different crops, forests, any buildings or any other activity aimed at efficient use of land or its productivity. However, as per Article 27 of the same law, the owner of land designated for expropriation in the public interest shall provide proof of rights to land and property incorporated thereon like land titles or any other documentary evidence showing he/she has property ownership.

- Law N° 43/2013 of 16/06/2013 governing land in Rwanda

This is the law that determines the use and management of land in Rwanda. It also institutes the principles that are to be respected on land legal rights accepted on any land in the country as well as all other appendages whether natural or artificial.

According to the Law, Land in Rwanda is categorized into two: Individual land and Public land. The latter is subdivided into two categories: the state land in public domain and the state land in private domain. The Article 12 and 13 of the land law stipulates that State land in the public domain consists of all land meant to be used by the general public or land reserved for organs of State services as well as national land reserved for environment conservation. Land occupied by national roads and their boundaries; Districts and City of Kigali roads and that of other urban areas linking different Sectors headquarters within the same District, or those roads that are used within the same Sector with their boundaries; arterial roads that connect Districts roads to rural community centres that are inhabited as an agglomeration with their boundaries is among the State land in the public domain.

- Law establishing and Organizing the Real Property Valuation Profession in Rwanda

Law No.17/2010 of 12/05/2010 Establishing and Organizing the Real Property Valuation Profession provides conditions for registration of land valuers in Rwanda, establishes the Institute for real property Valuers and sets conditions to exercise the profession. The law also allows the Government to conduct valuation when mandated by their government institutions. Articles 27, 29, 30 and 31 of the law deals with valuation methods. These articles stipulate that price for the real property shall be close or equal to the market value. The valuation could also compare land values country wide. Where sufficient comparable prices are not available to determine the value of improved land, the replacement cost approach shall be used to determine the value of improvements to land by taking real property as a reference. The law also allows the use of international methods not covered in the law after approval from the Institute of Valuers council.


Grievance Redress Mechanism

Grievance redress mechanism in Rwanda are catered in the Ministerial Order No. 002/2008 of 2008 Determining Modalities of Land Registration. Annex 3 of the Ministerial order provides for dispute resolutions procedures and some provisions related to the Cell Adjudication Committee (CAC). Articles 17, 20, 22, and 23 provide the process for resolving disputes. Article 17 grants parties with a dispute, the right to take that dispute to the mediation committee. That article also provides that where a dispute arose during demarcation and adjudication but, with the assistance of the CAC, the parties were able to resolve the dispute, the parties are bound by that agreement, and may not later attempt to raise the issue. Article 20 provides procedures for the CAC when hearing disputes, including that the hearing is open to the public and announced eight days in advance, among other requirements. Articles 22 and 23 govern the lodging and processing of objections and corrections during a 60-day period.

The CAC is comprised of all five members of the cell land committee and five members of the particular Umudugudu (Village) where demarcation and adjudication is taking place. The cell Executive Secretary acts as the CAC secretary, although he or she has no voting rights. This order can be used to resolve resettlement conflict in the project area. The Expropriation Law in public interests Article 26 provides complaints procedures for individuals dissatisfied with the value of their compensation. The Law stipulates that the dissatisfied person has a period of 30 days after the project approval decision has been taken to appeal (Article 19).

The first step of redress is to inform those to be expropriated of their rights during the expropriation process. Articles 17-20 of the Expropriation Law obliges the representative government authority (that which is implementing the project requiring expropriation) to inform affected people of their rights at each stage of the process.

According to Article 26, all the grievances concerning non-compliance with the provisions of the contract, the value or timing of compensation or seizure of land assets without compensation shall be addressed to the Land Commission at the level at which the issue is based. The aggrieved party is provided with a legal expert in the matters of Land Law or any other survey expert with value verification skills, who will proceed to recalculate the value of compensation due. In the event that the new value is rejected by the Land Commission hearing the complaint, the aggrieved party may appeal to the immediate higher Land Commission within 15 working days which must then deliver its verdict within 30 days. If the aggrieved party is still dissatisfied with the decision, their final resort shall be to file the case to the competent Court of Law. According to Article 26, filing a case in courts of law does not stop the expropriation process from being affected.

To ensure that the affected parties are fully aware and to reduce possible backlog of complaints, it should be noted in advance that most members of the rural communities take time to decide to complain when aggrieved and as a result, may miss the 30-day period required to file their complaints. As per international standards, grievances logged outside this timeframe may still be valid and legitimate. Customarily, the government expropriation authorities ensure that all affected people are fully informed and will issue warnings about the consequences of failure to lodge their complaints in time. Within this customary procedure, affected people are informed of the procedures before their assets or properties are taken.


Guidelines for Right of Way in Rwanda

The construction of medium voltage lines requires a Right of Way (RoW) for both construction and operational phases. During the construction, the right of way is cleared for visibility and construction activities while during operational Phase the RoW is used under restriction conditions. Due to the impacts associated with the acquisition of rights-of-way, the projects will follow procedures in conformance with the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) guidelines No 01/GL/EL-EWS/RURA/2015 on the right- of way for Power Lines in Rwanda. In accordance to the guidelines No 01/GL/EL-EWS/RURA/2015 on the right-of way for Power Lines in Rwanda the information given below will govern the use of the right of Way. •

• General requirements on the use of the Right of Way/ Restrictions:

- It is forbidden for any person to construct any building or structure or carry out cultivation, farming

or any other activity within the Right-of-Way prior to the consent of the Licensee;

- to drill, mine or excavate or carry on any similar operation within the Right-of-Way;

- to place any combustible material inside the Right-of-Way;

- to cause any fire to burn within Sixty (60) meters of the transmission line Right-of-Way;

- to climb on to, attach to or hang any object on or from any tower/pole or transmission/distribution


- to cause anything to come into contact with the power line;

- to place, drive, tow, pull or carry any crane, jig, or any object, under, over or near the transmission

line except with the prior consent of the Licensee obtained in writing and subject to any condition

that the Utility may impose in relation to such consent;

- to carry out any form of blasting within hundred (100) meters of any power line; and

- Permanent buildings, including foundations and overhangs, pools, septic tanks, dumps, junkyards,

wells, fuelling or fuel storage facilities, garbage, recycling receptacles and other non-compatible uses shall not be permitted on the Right-of-Way.


General derogations on the use of the right of way

Resettlement Policy Framework for Rwanda Universal Energy Access Program (RUEAP)

As long as minimum clearances from poles and conductors are maintained and with a prior written consent of the licensee, the right-of-way can be used for certain activities such as yards, gardens, pastures and farming, recreational fields, streets, roads, driveways, parking lots, lakes, fences, drainage ditches, grading or any other activity that may not interfere with the line operation. Temporary buildings or structures that are small and easily movable may be acceptable in the right-of-way with prior approval of the Licensee, provided that:

- they are located away from the Licensee’ works and access roads and not directly beneath overhead conductors;

- they are not habitable;

- they are not used for the purpose of storing flammable, explosive or toxic materials that could create

a fire hazard;

- they do not have electrical or water service;

- they are of non-metallic construction or are grounded to the utilities’ satisfaction.

- they do not adversely affect safety of customers, utility personnel and the general public.

• General Licensee’s Obligations


In constructing and maintaining power lines on the property covered by the easement, the Licensee shall:

- Maintain the Right-of-Way (RoW) as it requires, both within the Wire Zone and the Border Zone;

- Remove vegetation that could pose danger to a power line or pole inside the Right-of-Way and

outside the Right-of-Way (RoW) if it could come too close to power lines or poles;

- If excavation is necessary, ensure that the topsoil is stripped, piled and replaced upon completion of

the operation;

- Restore to its original condition any strip of land which has been disturbed by the construction or


- Clear all debris and remove all stones and rocks resulting from construction activity upon completion

of construction;

- Pay for any damage caused by such construction or maintenance or satisfactorily repair any damage

caused by such construction or maintenance to its original condition;

- Control vegetation and weeds around its power lines and facilities, and decide the appropriate

method to adopt to ensure that the clearance space remains free of vegetation that could pose danger

to a power line taking account of the potential risk to the public, conservation and other values;

- Ensure that the pruning or clearing is done responsibly; and determine the regrowth space, hazard

space and the pruning and clearing cycle;

- Notify the landowner before carrying out any pruning and clearing. In emergency situations, the

Licensee may remove vegetation which poses an immediate risk without notification, but the Licensee should notify the owner or occupiers as soon as practicable after the removal of the vegetation;

- Ensure that pruning or clearing activities near power lines are undertaken safely. This may require the Licensee to de-energize the power lines or install necessary grounding to landowner’s fence or equipment to enable the clearance of vegetation safely; and

- Ensure that any of his employees undertaking operations in the vicinity of his power lines, and any contractors he engages to carry out such works are appropriately trained and competent for that task, especially on safe working practices near power lines.

It's worth to note that in addition to the compensation of crops and tree affected during right of way clearing, the implementing agency will pay 5% of disturbance allowances to cover impacts caused by restriction use of land in the RoW as a requirement stated in the nation expropriation law.

• Right of Way Dimensions

As per the above said RURA guidelines the horizontal right of way for then 15KV-30KV is 12 meters, for 1120KV is 25m, for 220 KV the right of way is 30m while for 400KV the right of way width becomes 50m. 

Comparative Analysis between Rwanda Legislations, World bank ESS5 and OS2 of AfDB

Although Rwanda has developed and enacted land and expropriation laws that are responsive to land acquisition and property compensation especially in case of expropriation, there are some gaps when compared to ESS5 of the WB and OS2 of AfDB. The following table summarizes findings of gap analysis between national regulations and ESS5 as well as proposed measures to bridge identified breaches.



There are some gaps between the national Rwandan legislation and the World Bank ESS5 and AfDB ISS on OS 2. These relate to the general principles for resettlement, eligibility criteria, the notification period for expropriation and resettlement, and the procedures required throughout the resettlement process, project design, consultation, participation and broad community support, resettlement planning, host community, vulnerable groups, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. 

The key differences are as follows.

  1. Avoid Resettlement: While ESS5 stipulates that projects should first avoid involuntary resettlement as much as possible, there are no similar provisions in Rwandan national legislation, which states that ‘expropriation of land will be done when deemed necessary for public purposes.’ Secondly, the notification period under national legislation requires that property must be handed over 120 days after financial compensation has been paid, while ESS5 requires that displacement must not occur until all necessary measures for resettlement are in place including assisting the PAPs with relocation.

  2. b) Meaningful and participative consultation: ESS5 requires that persons to be expropriated should be meaningfully consulted and that the PAPs should have the opportunity to participate in planning and design of resettlement programs. Paragraph 17 stipulates that Decision-making processes related to resettlement and livelihood restoration will include options and alternatives from which affected persons may choose. Furthermore, paragraph 18 requires that the consultation process ensures that women’s perspectives are obtained, and their interests factored into all aspects of resettlement planning and implementation. The Rwandan Expropriation Law only stipulates that affected peoples be fully informed of expropriation issues and that the public interest will always override any individual interest. Indeed, the law prohibits anyone to hinder the expropriation process based solely on “self-centred” reasons.

  3. Eligibility determination: According to ESS5 eligibility determination of the PAPs entitles those who have formal rights, those with claims to land, and those with no recognizable legal right to compensation; paragraph 20 states that as part of the environmental and social assessment, the borrower will conduct a census to identify the persons who will be affected by the project, to establish an inventory of land and assets to be affected to determine who will be eligible for compensation and assistance and to discourage ineligible persons, such as opportunistic settlers, from claiming benefits but under the Rwanda Expropriation law compensation is limited only those with land titles and or recognizable customary or written evidence of land ownership, persons recognized as legal occupants and owners of the expropriated land and property thereon. The WB ESF is much broader and includes both legal and illegal occupants of the land therefore, where discrepancies will be found, it will take precedence.

  4. Notification period required: The Rwandan expropriation law of 2015 requires that property must be handed over 120 days after financial compensation has been paid, while ESS5 requires that displacement must not occur before all necessary measures for resettlement (not only compensation) are in place.

  5. Fair and just compensation: The Expropriation Law provides for fair and just compensation to expropriated peoples eligible for compensation but the definition of 'fair and just' is not clearly established, and therefore there is a risk that Project Affected People's livelihoods may not be restored or improved after compensation and resettlement. Art. 28: Without prejudice to other laws, the value of land and property incorporated thereon to be expropriated in the public interest shall be calculated on the basis of their size, nature and location and the prevailing market rates. The compensation for disruption caused by expropriation to be paid to the expropriated person shall be equivalent to five percent (5%) of the total value of his/her property expropriated. In this context the term “ disruption “ is not clearly defined but most of the time it is assumed to cover for transaction costs include administrative charges, registration or title fees and moving expenses, while ESS5 in paragraph 12 stipulates that when land acquisition or restrictions on land use (whether permanent or temporary) cannot be avoided, the borrower will offer affected persons compensation at replacement cost, and other assistance as may be necessary to help them improve or at least restore their standards of living or livelihoods. The ESS5 provides a wider window to explore all sorts of assistance that may need to be applied depending on site specific context, PAPs and community special circumstances.

  6. Monitoring: Whilst monitoring measures are provided for in Rwandan legislation, the focus is to ensure that contracted compensation has been provided in full and before any relocation. It does not require assessment as to whether the compensation provided was appropriate to the context and circumstances and does not establish a follow up mechanism to assess whether the PAPs livelihoods have been restored or improved as stipulated by while the World Bank’s ESS5 requires that after relocation monitoring be carried out.

  7. Project design: The borrower or client considers feasible alternative project designs, including re-siting and re-routing, to avoid or minimise physical or economic displacement, while balancing environmental, social, and financial costs and benefits. When the resettlement implications of a project would appear to be particularly severe, the borrower considers either downsizing the project to reduce resettlement or finding other alternatives that can reasonably replace the project. For greater transparency and fairness, the borrower or client involves all stakeholder groups as early as possible, at least at the time when the first project plans are drafted; before completion of the project design, including their inputs so that the project design can be properly altered; and continuing throughout implementation, particularly in monitoring and evaluating resettlement and compensation projects and programmes.

  8. Consultation, participation and broad community support: Specific consultation, participation and broad community support which are part of the ISS. Open, inclusive and effective consultation with local communities includes the following elements: Appropriate notice to all potentially affected persons that resettlement is being considered and that there will be public hearings on the proposed plans and alternatives; Effective advance dissemination by the authorities of relevant information, including land records and proposed comprehensive resettlement plans specifically addressing efforts to protect vulnerable groups; A reasonable time period for public review of, comments on, and/or objection to any options of the proposed plan; and Public hearings that provide affected persons and/or their legally designated representatives with opportunities to challenge the resettlement design and process, and/or to present and discuss alternative proposals and articulate their views and development priorities.

  9. Resettlement planning: The borrower or client carries out a comprehensive socioeconomic survey in line with international standards for social and economic baseline studies as agreed to in the environmental and social assessment process—including a population census and an inventory of assets (including natural assets upon which the affected people may depend for a portion of their livelihoods). This survey identifies the people who will be displaced by the project; all the relevant characteristics of those people, including conditions of vulnerability; and the magnitude of the expected physical and economic displacement. The baseline survey includes gender- and age-disaggregated information pertaining to the economic, social and cultural conditions of the affected population. It contains various official materials (maps, numerical records, special reports, research and knowledge pieces, etc.), records of interviews with stakeholders about their preferences, supply chain due diligence material, and a protocol to fill any gaps in data and ancillary information, and it identifies opportunities to improve community welfare. The survey process also ensures that ineligible people, such as opportunistic settlers, cannot claim benefits. However, seasonal resource users may not be present in the project area of influence during the time of the survey, so special consideration is given to their claims.

  10. Host communities: The borrower or client carries out a detailed analysis of host communities to identify potential problems associated with receiving displaced people, and to address these problems so that adverse impacts on host communities are minimised and the host communities are able to share in the development opportunities provided through the resettlement process. The assessment of host communities is based on transparent information and effective consultation, and it results in a consensual agreement that must be conveyed to the borrower or client by representative community leaders and recorded in public consultation proceedings. The conflicts between hosts and the affected population may develop as increased demands are placed on land, water, forests, services, and so on, or if those affected by the project are provided with services and housing superior to those of the hosts. The borrower or client carefully considers such impacts when assessing the feasibility and costs of any proposed project involving displacement, and adequate resources are reflected in the budget for mitigating these additional environmental and social impacts. The dispute-settlement procedures should be sufficiently agile to quickly resolve conflicts between hosts and the affected population.

  11. Vulnerable groups: Member countries and other borrowers/ clients are responsible for protecting the physical, social and economic integrity of vulnerable groups and for paying particular attention to health needs, particularly for women, including access to female health care providers and to such services as reproductive health care and appropriate counselling for sexual and other abuses.

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