Insights from Rwanda: Analysis of a Land Conflict Resolution Project in Eastern Province


Paper prepared for presentation at the “2016 WORLD BANK CONFERENCE ON LAND AND POVERTY,” The World Bank—Washington DC, March 14-18, 2016.

Authors: Karina Kloos, Margaret McClung, Shih-Ting Huang – Landesa

The prevalence and intensity of land related disputes in rural Rwanda, particularly intra-household disputes affecting women, are consequential to the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of women, their families, and communities. Combined with challenges in the existing dispute resolution process and inhibited legal awareness, there are significant needs to address the wide spread issue. The Promoting Peace Project, a model integrating legal literacy and conflict transformation techniques, is one effort to do so. In just 18 months, more than 400 cases, 56% identified, were peacefully resolved through the pilot project. Findings from project assessment also indicate that the approach had positive effects beyond individual beneficiaries of dispute resolution; communities benefitted from legal awareness and improvements in the accessibility and fairness of local dispute resolution processes. Capacity of Community Resource Persons (CRPs) and local authorities increased, and CRPs in particular gained personal confidence and increased visibility and stature within their communities, providing potential long-term, institutionalized benefits. These early indications of success suggest that the combination of legal literacy awareness and peaceful conflict resolution techniques implemented through local CRPs is an effective approach. Still, underlying gender issues; the prevalence of informal marriages; and model scalability invite further investigation.

Key Words: Dispute Resolution, Intra-household Land Disputes, Legal Literacy, Rwanda, Women’s Land Rights