In Rwanda, all wetlands belong to the State and several laws frame processes for wetland management and protection; however, there is a lack of clarity surrounding the procedures for determining uses of wetlands that ensure their long term sustainability. Without a clear mandate on how projects in wetlands should be approved from the government, there has been some lack of detail surrounding several key issues pertaining to wetlands use and protection, including: definitions of terms, land tenure and pre-existing freehold titles, public use of State land, and sufficiency of protection mechanisms. In spite of these issues, there is strong political will to improve and adapt wetland policies so that sustainable use balances conservation of wetland areas.
This research examines current wetland policies, as well as draft legislation being considered to formalize use approval procedures.
The specific objectives of this brief are to:
- determine policies, laws and regulations that currently govern use, protection and tenure of wetlands in Rwanda;
- explain inconsistences between definitions in policies, and their impact on effective wetlands management;
- explain processes in practice for leasing wetland by government entities;
- analyze some of the major issues or contestations that surface around wetlands in terms of their use, tenure, and protection;
- provide recommendations for policy and practice that help to reduce poverty, protect land rights, and ensure sustainable land use and conservation of wetlands.