The thesis analyses the new settlement policy that was put in place to deal with the major problems that arose out of the genocide in 1994. Rwanda has an area that is equivalent to the size of Dalarna in Sweden and a population of almost 10 million people. Besides a large number of people who lacked shelter and vital necessities in Rwanda, there were also 2.5 million refugees from Rwanda in nearby countries after the genocide.
– During the following years they returned to their devastated homes. To resolve these enormous challenges, new housing was built in well-structured villages in the countryside, so-called ’imidugudus’, through contributions primarily from UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency. However, these funds came to an end in 2001 before the task as a whole was completed, says Emmanuel Havugimana who is publicly defending his thesis in human ecology.
The Government’s goal is for 70 percent of Rwanda’s rural population to live in this type of village, however, in 2008 this was the case for only 26 percent of the population.
The thesis addresses the way in which the living conditions of the residents in the new villages are affected by the new policy.
– The greatest problem is that the agricultural land has not been redistributed, which means that the distance to the fields has increased (up to 2 km) and consequently made the everyday agricultural work more difficult. Yields have become smaller than they were previously and agricultural methods based on manual work have not been made more efficient, says Emmanuel Havugimana.
– There is still a great deal of poverty in the countryside. Up to 60 percent of the people are living on the poverty line, i.e. earning less than one dollar a day.
The thesis proposes a number of possible ways of dealing with these problems and achieving rural development. They include more efficient agricultural methods with better use of fertilizers, water supply and activities to prevent erosion, electrification of the countryside, a focus on cooperative agricultural initiatives and development of additional sources of income other than agriculture such as fish farming, furniture-making etc.
Title of the thesis: State Policies and Livelihoods, Rwanda Human Settlement Policy
Author of the thesis: Emmanuel Havugimana
Faculty opponent’s name: Associate Professor Hans Holmén, Linköping University
Time and venue for the public defence: Friday 2 October 2009 at 13.00, Lecture theatre 302 Annedalseminariet,
Ö Husargatan 34/Seminariegatan 2, Gothenburg