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Gender and Land Rights Database

Rwanda

  • In 2012, the total population was estimated at 11.5 million, of which 51.2 percent were women. 
  • Of the total population, 80.6 percent lived in rural areas (1). 
  • In 2012, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was USD 71 billion, while the per capita GDP was USD 620, with an annual average growth rate of 5 percent (1). Services account for the largest GDP share. 
  • In 2012, services contributed to 51.1 percent of the GDP (1), the industry accounted for 15.92 percent and agriculture accounted for 32.95 percent (1) of the GDP. In 2011, the population density was estimated at 464 people per square kilometre (1).
  • With a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.434 in 2013, the country ranks 167 out of 186 countries measured (2). In 2011 26.6 percent of the total population lived below the USD 1 per day poverty line (3). 
  • Data from 2012 indicates that 29.7 % of the population was undernourished (3). 
  • Life expectancy at birth was estimated to be 65.2 years for women and 61.9 years for men (1). 
  • In 2010 the literacy rate was 65.9 percent with a 10 percent disparity between men and women.  
  • The level reached 71.1 percent of men but only 61.5 percent of women (1).  
  • In 2010 the total female share of the economically active population in agriculture was 96.1 percent (4).
  • The country is divided into 4 Provinces which are the Northern Province, the Southern Province, the Eastern Province, the Western Province, and the Municipality of Kigali in the centre. They are subdivided in 30 Districts which are in turn divided in Sectors and Cells. The District is the basic political-administrative unit of the country. 
  • Rwanda has a dual system of land tenure: a customary system of land tenure, which governs 90% of the country’s arable land and a formal (written) system of land tenure which mostly governs land in urban districts and some rural lands managed by churches and other natural and legal persons. The formal law confers several land tenure rights to individuals such as land tenancy, long term lease and title deeds (particularly in towns) (8). The law only recognises private ownership with the obligation to register land under the National Land Registration Programme (5). 
  • The 1994 genocide has had a significant impact on land rights and access to land, with thousands of landless refugees returning home. The government has demonstrated clear political will to support sustainable small-scale agriculture to reduce endemic levels of hunger (5). 
  • Farmers grow bananas, cereals (sorghum, maize, and rice), tubers (cassava, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and manioc), pulses (beans and peas) and vegetables, largely for their own consumption. Agricultural production is generally not mechanised and the use of improved seeds, pesticides or chemical fertilisers is limited. Women are responsible for much of the physical labour on the field. (18) Land holdings tend to be small. The government has tackled the issue of fragmentation which is a widespread phenomenon in the country, driven by population growth.
  • A National Land Policy was adopted in 2004 which marked the beginning of a comprehensive policy and legal reform to guide the judicious use and management of the land resource with the ultimate objective of lifting the economy and eradicate poverty. Importantly, the National Land Policy identified customary law as promoting the excessive parcelling out of plots through the successive father-to-son inheritance system (8). An Organic Land Law was adopted in 2005 to determine the modalities of allocation, acquisition, transfer, use and management of land to support the rational and sustainable use of land in Rwanda.

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography