Learning route "Innovative tools and approaches for securing women's land rights", Rwanda and Burundi, 3rd to 10th of February 2014 | Land Portal

The Learning Route is over. We have shared and learnt a lot during those days together. This page keeps tracking our experiences and engagement  in securing women’s land rights. Furthermore all the documents concerning the Route and the cases we visited can be found here: http://africa.procasur.org/our-routes/innovative-tools-and-approaches/   (please go to the library session).

For more articles and for the pictures of the Learning Route you can join the dedicated FB page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Learning-Route-Innovative-tools-to-secure…

Interest is growing among International Land Coalition (ILC)’s civil society members in Africa to exchange and deepen knowledge of tools and approaches used in different contexts to secure women’s land rights. ILC is partnering with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) in order to identify and share such tools and approaches identify gaps/tools that need to be developed, and build a community of practise among practitioners and activists to learn from each other. Building upon this, the ILC joins efforts with PROCASUR to develop a Learning Route on “Innovative tools and approaches for securing women´s land rights” which focuses on tools identified and used at country level for securing women’s land rights in the ESA Region. By bringing together a ILC members and partners, GLTN partners and IFAD project staff, this Learning Route will enable the transfer of practical examples, approaches and case studies focusing on innovative tools to secure women land rights, and significantly contribute to building a community of practise amongst diverse actors. The Learning Route will take place in Rwanda and Burundi where innovative experiences making use of tools for securing women´s land rights have been identified on the basis of recommendations from a group of experts.

The Learning Route begins on 4 February in Kigali, it continues in Burundi and ends, again in Kigali, on 11 February (see annex schedule).

This page hosts useful materials and will host discussions about the Route. Thanks to this page you can follow the Route and take part to the debate.


Welcome all!

Tomorrow morning, after months of planning, the Learning Route finally begins: we will welcome a diverse group of people from civil society organisations, development projects, and international organisations from 12 countries in Africa, as well as Argentina and Nepal and set off on a journey to learn about how to secure women's land rights.
Land is crucial to grow food and earn an income, but also accords social prestige and power. In many countries in the region, women access land mainly through male relatives, losing such access if the relationship ends.  Laws and policies are not enough to secure women's land rights when the coexistence of customary and statutory law allows those with power to manoeuvre tenure systems according to their interest.

Owning land is still a male privilege and gender equality exists on paper but not in women's lives. A grim picture, maybe, but land rights are also constantly claimed, renegotiated, contested - by women, individually or mobilising collectively. Power relations are not fixed, they can be changed, and women can enjoy secure land rights. Beyond recognition of equal rights in law, women can become empowered to claim their rights in practice.

This Route provides a unique opportunity to all of us to see some concrete examples, learn from them and also from each other. I am excited to meet all of the 'ruteros' tomorrow and start this journey together!

We will be posting impressions from the Route and - internet connection permitting - photo and video content over the next 8 days. We hope you will join us!

Day 1: The Learning Route begins with a very interesting but strong day.

We definitely learnt something from the women we met this afternoon: we learnt that even after one of the most terrible tragedy that one can live (yes of course the 1994 Genocide) together it possible to recover. To start again.

Indeed our visit to the Genocide Memorial this morning left all of us profoundly touched and impressed (knowing about the Story is something, seeing it under the appearance of common graves, skulls, pictures and, above all, names is definitely something completely different).

But indeed the exercise proposed by Diana (Procasur) before leaving that place (make a circle and shake hands) was a perfect introduction to what we have seen, listened, and learned in the afternoon.

We went to the Village of Hope, a medical and social structure upon a hill in Kigali where we visited the clinic and understood how it works (including providing free diagnosis, treatments and follow up to patients affected by the HIV). After the clinic we have been welcomed by a huge group of women dancing, singing and playing music. Indeed when you know that most of them have been victims of the Genocide their force appears even more relevant.

In the room we found very interesting poster on their activities as well as on the Learning Route made on purpose for us.

Testimonies on their stories (thanks Yvonne and Ines, our translators) and presentation of the activities of the Rwanda Women Network has been followed by a questions&answers session where participants to the Learning Route focused of some main issues such as the role of paralegals or the interaction with the government.

Indeed a strong connection exist between the situation of women victims of the genocide and the issue of land tenure, in this context the role of paralegals (about which we will learn more tomorrow in Bugusera) is fundamental.

We can't wait for tomorrow, again with the RWN as well as with panels of experts on land tenures and gender monitoring.

Stay tuned!



To give you an idea of the welcome we received at Rwanda Women's Network Village of Hope, here's a short clip:


If it doesn"t appear here, you can see it directly on You tube at: http://youtu.be/UB-vDpYMXgA

(this is a test, it's only 12 seconds of video!)

Day 2 The Learning Route

The second day of the Learning Route is over: it has been dense, full and fruitful day where theory, practice and exchanges have been perfectly combined.
Indeed during the morning there have been two panels: one on Land Tenure and Women's Land Rights in Rwanda and the other on Gender Monitoring and Evaluation, gathering experts from different organisations and backgrounds (such as National Women's Council of Rwanda, LAND Project, RCN, the Registry of Land Titles and the Gender Monitoring Office of Rwanda).
Several stimulating questions have been made by the participants giving all of us the opportunity to exchange opinions and perspective on the situation about land tenure and women's rights (in terms of titling, inheritance, customs).
In the afternoon we had the occasion to learn more about the Rwanda Women Network; this time in Bugusera. Another Village of Hope welcomed us with dance and music followed by an extremely well explanatory dramatisation of women's stories. Different cases of disputes involving land issues and women have been presented. In all the stories the crucial point was the role of paralegals and the support offered when presenting the cases to the local comitees of community justice (called gacaca). Indeed as the women explained us during the following activity (three groups of participants to Learning Route meeting one woman who told them her story) the main support offered by RWN consisted in the actions conducted by the paralegals in order to defend and secure women's rights.
In fact even though the RWN was originally created to provide medical and psychological assistance to women victims of the genocide, it soon expanded its field of engagement.
As if all these stories were not enough back to the hotel we have had our first session of the Experience Fair: a fundamental step toward the creation of the innovation plans. Therefore this night we don't only know more about RWN but each of us has listened about other 5 or 6 experiences dealing with land rights and women's land rights from all over the world.
If you want to know more...keep following us. (We are leaving for Burundi tomorrow!)

The Learning Route “Innovative tools and approaches for securing women’s land rights’ is really an informative training organized by ILC and Procasur for 7 days. Now, its only 2 days but it has really succeeded in providing the very pertinent information on laws and policies of the government related to women land rights, the cases of women’s land right issues in Rwanda from Rwanda Women Network, the work on the subject matter by different other organization in Rwanda, experience sharing from other participants from different parts of the world and many more. Since, I am working in an organization (COLARP, Nepal), which works on land issues with one of the focus areas as women’s land rights issues, this LR has really helped me to broaden my knowledge on the subject matter. I am also looking forward to learn more from the visit to Burundi. I am confident that our visit to Burundi would also be as informative as Rwanda. The learning I receive from this Learning Route will definitely build up my capacity to deal with women’s land rights issues in Nepal. I am also excited to utilize the knowledge I gained, in my work.

Let's start posting some clips of the participants to the Learning Route: they introduce themselves and explain their expectations about this experience.

Clip 1: Ernest from Burundi, APDH

Clip 2: Dorcas from Cameroun, MBOSCUDA



 Day3 and Day4 Learning Route

After a long and fascinating trip crossing Rwandan hills we reached Burundi yesterday in late evening. Ngozi welcomed us under the rain, but provided us with a sunny day for this morning activity: the visit to the first APDH (Association pour la Paix et les Droits de l'Homme) case.

Before reaching the Gashikanwa Community the group listened to an exhaustive explanation on land tenure in Burundi by Renée Claude Niyonkuru, member of APDH, followed by a short overview on APDH, its story and its activities and programme and eventually a presentation of the Gender & Governance program, of which the Gashikanwa Community is on of the beneficiaries.

Among the huge amount of food for thought provided by these presentations a couple of ideas are to be retained: the interaction between politics and policy in the land-related debate, the question about to use the land reform to promote and protect human rights, the importance of rising awareness among women about their rights and their role in community decision making and eventually the importance of involving men in the debate on women's right. Indeed it has to be said that most of the APDH members are men.

Some of this topics, particularly as for the role of women inside the communities, have been further discussed in Gashikanwa, where we were welcomed by women singing and dancing and by some members of the municipal council.

Some dramatized testimonies have been presented, followed by a very stimulating Q&A session. In fact it seems that thanks to the APDH Gender and Governance project (launched in 2006) the situation of women in the Community has substantially improved, both in terms of access to land (although some relevant juridical barriers – such us the impossibility for women to inherit land - exist in Burundi in this respect) , women empowerment and decision-making. Higher is the number of women involved in the local councils as well as the amount of plots registered by women (in fact women cannot inherit land but they can buy it). Furthermore it seems that men are becoming more and more responsible in their behaviours both concerning family life and land issues.

Let's wait for tomorrow to learn more about APDH land titling projects!


JACQUELINE (Gashikanwa Community)

Jacqueline Nzirubusa, 37 years old member of the Gashikanwa Community, accepted to explain us a bit more of how the APDH program on Gender and Governance positively influenced her life, other women's lives and the community as a whole.

Indeed Jacqueline is a member of the Conseil de la Colline (an administrative division of the area). She reached the 4th position in the election for the Chef de la Colline in 2008 and in 2010 she arrived second.

She thinks that the general situation of women has substantially improved thanks to the program and women awareness of their rights has increased.

Furthermore, thanks to the her role in the Conseil, she can contribute to the resolution of community and domestic disputes and issues and, because of women representatives in this structure, women feel more confident in reporting abuses and asking for support. Indeed, thanks to the program, they acquired a new role inside the community as facilitator for pacific settlement of disputes and conflicts. And this role is recognized by all the members of the community, not just by the women; so that this pacific settlement became the first step of most of the dispute resolutions.

Eventually, she affirms, men became more responsible for what concern selling their land without the consent of their wives, which was quite common before.


Day 5 land tenure - Makebuko 

Before joining the field in order to see in practice the results of APDH efforts in land titling project, the group listened to a very effective presentation by one of the members of APDH in charge of the Land tenure program (Jean-Marie).

Therefore, when we reached the community we have been able to better understand the situation and the stories we listened too.

Indeed the visit to Makebuko land titling office has been extremely interesting, providing a broad picture of what the land-tenure project of APDH actually produced in women's and men's lives.

Different specific technical and juridical issues have been explained concerning the procedure of land registering at the registering office established by the local municipality (according to a possibility offered by the law which, however, doesn't make it compulsory) with a strong and indispensable support from APDH.

Two officers (a man and a women) explicated the procedure and shew the documents used for the registration. Even though the legal context doesn't provide specific norms for land titling (and not even economically sustain the services in place) the APDH program succeed in supporting the registration of a certain number of plots, some of which belonging to women (most commonly it is land they bought). The procedure for the registration implies an active participation of the community who is asked for confirm the property of the plot.

After technical issues explanation we have also had the opportunity to visit one of the plot registered and to exchange ideas with members of the community in order to understand more about their experiences (an example of which was represent as a drama).

Among other comments it seems very important to me to underline that, at least among the women, one of the main reasons for registering their land is to secure their children rights. Furthermore, as most of them said to us, registering land not only secure rights but also diminish the amount and the intensity of conflicts and disputes about land.


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 Day 7 Transitional Program of Post-Conflict Reconstruction

After one day focused on case analysis, innovation plans and a bit of rest on the Tanganyika Lake (on Sunday- day 5-) today we eventually visited the last of the three case: the PTRPC, funded by IFAD.

Indeed the case has been first presented with a general outline (objectives, results, methodologies, problems, statistics) and then the group visited the community of Bururi, both under the excellent guide of Esperance.

The project basically consists in providing legal support to the communities in different ways: namely mobile legal clinics, paralegals, legal competitions inside the community, support to judges activity. Furthermore as a parallel activity some micro-credit programs have been put in place in order to provide the women with some means of economic empowerment (including buying a plot of land, since, as stressed several times, no inheritance rights exist concerning women).

In fact the project mixes customary traditions, such as the Bashingantahe (leaders of the hill) with innovative methodologies such as the juridical competitions, organised indeed as public games to which everyone can participate.

Thanks to the project many cases who were waiting for judgment eventually found a solution in tribunals and, on the other hand, many land disputes have been pacifically solved thanks to the support of paralegals.

Just to share some statistics: 54% of the cases treated concern women and 80% of all the cases are land disputes.

Two examples of possible disputes have been presented during the visit to the community as short theater plays: the first one presenting the case of a women asking her usufruct rights on family land (owned by her brothers) and the second one presenting a dispute on land delimitation between two sisters-in-law owning contiguous plots.

Members of the communities from different hills were present, including Bashingantahe, paralegals and women leaders. Some of theme belonging to more than one category: namely being at the same time a mushingantahe and paralegal or paralegal and woman leader (indeed there are no women among the Bashingantahe).

The afternoon has been extremely full and stimulating since we also listened to two stories of women from Bujumbura rural areas involving at the same time dispute resolution and micro-credit. They both demonstrated the social and economic impact of this kind of projects.

Eventually the community agreed to take part to a legal competition: different legal questions have been made (quite difficult indeed!) and the floor was open to anyone (children, elders, women, men....) for answers. Various were the prizes, according to the difficulty of the question.

We came back from the community with a lot of enthusiasm and good ideas to share!

Tomorrow, within the presentation of participants' innovation plans, we will see how these three different cases could contribute to elaborate and implement new experiences and projects back home!


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Here you can find some more video clips. The participants make their comments about the Learning Route.

Daniela, Fundacion Plurales

Estella, SAFIRE

Mireille, P2M 


Shristee, COLARP

Ernest, APDH


Nadine, YOWLI

Kimba, CARE


(Not) the end of the Route

Tuesday we travelled back from Bujumbura to Kigali for everyone to return to their home (countries). It was a long but scenic trip that took us past great views of Lake Kivu and through Nyungwe Forest national park

This part of our Learning Route has ended, but it doesn't stop here: all participants have or will share their Innovation Plans that detail how they plan to use the knowledge acquired during the Route in their own work, before sharing a final version, they will discuss with colleagues at home to share in their organisations what useful tools and approaches they saw during the case visits.

From our side, we will continue to post over the next week or so what we saw during the Route on this page  and we encourage everyone to do the same! 

We will also put together a publication that synthesises what we learnt during this Route which will also be posted here once ready.

A special thanks to our hosts: in Rwanda, Rwanda Women's Network, in Burundi, Association pour la Paix et les Droits de l'Homme (APDH) and the Transitional Programme of Post-Conflcit Reconstruction (PTRPC) funded by IFAD. I think I speak for everyone when I say we were impressed with your dedication, the results you have achieved through your work and the warm welcome you extended to us.

Thanks to everyone of the participants for sharing this experience, asking questions, contributing thoughts and lessons from your own work, and for being great company. We hope that this Learning Route has contributed to your knowledge, but also to building your network with other working to promote secure and equitable land rights for women.

Good luck with your work and hope to hear from all of you very soon!


Shristee Singh from ILC member COLARP (Nepal) receiving her Learning Route certificate from Dorcas Waindim from ILC member MBOSCUDA (Cameroon)

Here's a storify I created (my first ever) Storify on the Learning Route it - includes tweets and all sorts of links to relevant pages:


Hope you like it!


Community paralegals - resources


As promised, here are some links to resources on community paralegals:


OpenSociety Foundation (2010): Community-based paralegals - A Practicioners'  Guide 

This legal guide explains how to start and run a local paralegal program, including how to assess local needs and train paralegals.

Namati's page on Legal Aid 2.0: explans the genesis of Namati's work, started in Sierra Leone with the development of a national approach to basic justice services and which included community-based paralegals. This page also contains information on a five coutnry research project on community-based paralegals (Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, South Africa, and the Philippines). Also see the Kampala Declaration on Community Paralegals.

Justice for the Poor - Community-Based Paralegals: World Bank page with resources on the topic.

Hope you find these useful - please add other resources you are aware of!




Here some more links to articles related to women land rights, from the facebook page of the Learning Route (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Learning-Route-Innovative-tools-to-secure...)


UNWomen- Gender inequality addressed by the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals 



Women, Water & Leadership workshop: How to respond to the ‘feminization’ of agriculture in Nepal


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