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From unplanned settlement to new housing development in Kigali city: the case study of Amahoro cell, Muhima sector

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par John MUGISHA
National University of Rwanda - Bachelor's degree 2011

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4.5 Housing regulation in Kigali city

Before the establishment and approval of Kigali conceptual master plan in 2007, there was no specific guiding blueprint for housing and infrastructure development in Kigali city apart from broader policies, laws and regulations (established by the city council) to control housing development. Regulations by Kigali city council had their basis on the laws and policies in place established by the government. These regulations were implemented by the lower local government authorities (districts, sectors, cells and Imidugudu). The regulations were not fully enforced by all local leaders since some of them (local leaders) were influenced by corruption and could tolerate illegal buildings. This led to the continuous growth of informal settlements even though these regulations and laws were in place. Below we discuss some of the policies and laws that are based on to regulate housing development in Kigali city:

A national consultative process that took place in village Urugwiro in 1998-99 resulted into Rwanda's vision 2020. This vision is a basis for policies and laws developed since its establishment. Vision 2020 acknowledges that Rwanda is characterized by low but accelerating urbanization.

This has happened in a rapid and uncoordinated manner, meaning that social services and employment opportunities are lagging behind. Vision 2020 anticipated that from then (1999) until 2010,each town will have regularly updated urban master plans and specific land management plans.

It is in line with vision 2020 that Kigali conceptual master plan was established in 2007 and district municipal master plans. According to Kigali conceptual master plan, a long range vision for how development might occur over the next 50-100 years to accommodate another 2-3 million people is provided. While this might seem like a long time into the future, urban planning experience shows that by establishing along range plan for key infrastructure and systems early on, they can guide future incremental growth with carethoughtfulness, concern for real human needs, citizen participation, cost effectiveness and efficiency.

The goal of this plan is not to control the growth of Kigali in an authoritarian way, but to provide the framework and flexibility to prompt a long term process that is guided by Rwandans as they shape their capital city incrementally, responding to changing needs; and that creates a vibrant, unique and truly Rwandan city. Subarea master plans have been established for different parts of Kigali city while others are underway. Implementation has already started in some areas such as Muhima, Akumunigo in Nyamirambo, and Kimicanga. Any building to be erected must conform to the respective subarea master plan. In case land is needed for the development in public interest, it is acquired from private owners through expropriation. The expropriated persons are relocated to a new site primarily designed for residential use. An example is the relocation of former residents of Ubumwe cell in Muhima sector to Batsinda in Kinyinya sector of Gasabo district.

Unlike in the past, no new building or even any upgrading on the existing building can be done without the building permit from the relevant officials at the district level. In case a person wants to build a house or upgrade his/her house must pass through the Umudugudu, cell and sector officials who confirm that the land belongs to that person and that it is found in that area where he/she wishes to build the house. When the seeker of the building permit meets the requirements, he/she is given an authorization. Leaders at the Umudugudu must make thorough supervision to ensure that no building is erected without the license from the district. Any building found to have been erected without authorization is demolished by the sector officials with permission from the district. These procedures are more respected by local authorities than in the past because any illegal tolerance is punished by law.

In 2008, national urban housing policy was established to guide Government objectives and priorities in line with the objectives as laid down particularly in the Vision 2020, the EDPRS, and the National Investment Strategy (MININFRA, 2008). According to the aims of Vision 2020, about 30% of the population will live in planned cities with access to basic infrastructure necessary to ensure sustainable development. This policy proposes the establishment of a regulatory body, an Urban Development Board to manage the development of urban areas and urban housing in particular. This body will regulate the issues concerned with allocation of land, its development, standards associated with housing and construction, private and public estate development among other functions.

Two years after the establishment of the national urban housing policy (2010), Rwanda housing authority was established as a public institution to implement the national housing and construction policy through coordination, conception, development, monitoring and evaluation of actions and programs set out in its mission. Currently in its early stage of work, the Rwanda housing authority (RHA) evaluates district municipal land use master plans and is setting relevant regulation documents. Rwanda housing authority serves as the overall project manager on the behalf of the state for all projects related to housing and construction.

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