Kigali, informal settlements, land ownership, land tenure challenges
Rapid urbanization of Kigali City is a direct consequence of increasing development of informal settlements in the city. This research sought to identify challenges related to land tenure systems in informal settlements, analyze problems related to lack of land ownership, assess existing planning policies, and suggest alternatives for coping with highlighted problems using Muhima sector as a case study. Desk study was used for scrutinizing existing policy documents on urban development in Rwanda. Primary data were collected by field observation, households’ survey by questionnaire and structured interview with local authorities. Cluster area sampling was used to determine sample cells and out of seven cells of Muhima Sector, three cells were randomly selected. Sample size was composed of 60 households picked up proportionally to the number of households in sampled cells. Findings revealed that majority (71%) of households hold land in informal arrangements where land rights are not recognized in public land registry. Informal land market was a key characteristic in the sector as most of plots were acquired through informal purchase. Hence, land is not an instrument for economic development in the sector because it cannot be used as collateral in financial transactions. It was observed that 60% of respondents have never requested for bank loans because of lack of documents for land ownership, and land is given at low values during expropriation for urban redevelopment. Land is not properly demarcated and registered, and boundary conflicts are frequent, occurring at 35% of land conflicts in the sector. Due to distortion of land market, local authorities and landowners do not have common understanding in transferring de facto land rights through purchase and selling. There is a need to speed up land tenure regularization and formalization in urban informal settlements.