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The Institute of Policy Analysis and Research(IPAR-Rwanda) in collaboration with the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research(PASGR) based in Nairobi, Kenya, have launched forums to discuss urban governance challenges and opportunities in Rubavu and Rusizi districts in western Rwanda.

The aim of the forums is to bring together all the key stakeholders in the development of both districts to identify the existing urban governance challenges and propose implementable solutions to fast track the development of the urban areas in both districts.
The stakeholders include the District Administration, Private Sector, Academic and Research Institutions, Civil Society and the representatives of the people affected by urbanization.
The forum in Rusizi District was launched on April 28, 2022 while the forum in Rubavu district was launched on March 18, 2022.

The forums are part of the project “Utafiti Sera on Urban Governance in Rwanda’s Secondary Cities” which is implemented by IPAR Rwanda with funding from PASGR.
Referred to as Utafiti Sera Stakeholders’ Forums on Urban Governance, the forums provide a platform for the stakeholders to contribute to the urban governance discussions and policies in Rwanda’s six secondary cities using the available research evidence.

In a span of two years, IPAR Rwanda and PASGR have successfully organized Utafiti Sera Stakeholders’ Forum on Urban Governance in all the six secondary cities in Rwanda, including Rusizi, Rubavu, Muhanga, Musanze, Nyagatare and Huye
Rwanda’s National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) identifies growth in secondary cities as essential to meet the target for inclusive urban growth.

In the strategy, the six secondary cities, are identified to act as poles of growth to relieve pressure on the capital city Kigali.

One of the steps taken by the Government to raise the status of the secondary cities has been the development of the masterplans for urban areas in all the six secondary cities.
In 2019, IPAR Rwanda conducted baseline socio-economic studies to inform the development of the master plans in the secondary cities. Although Rubavu and Rusizi City master plans are yet to be launched, they are in the final phase.

Urban Governance Forum in Rusizi District

The first Utafiti Sera Stakeholders’ Forum on Urban Governance in Rusizi District was organized on April 28, 2022 and brought together different stakeholders in the development of the Rusizi district.

During the forum, IPAR Rwanda presented the findings from the socio-economic studies conducted in 2019 to inform the design and development of the Rusizi City Master plan.
Speaking during the Forum, Dr. Jean Baptiste Nsengiyumva, Senior Research Fellow at IPAR Rwanda, noted that the forum intended to bring together stakeholders in the development of Rusizi District and the District Administration to discuss urban governance challenges and propose solutions based on the research evidence.
Speaking on behalf of the Mayor of Rusizi District, Director of Planning in Rusizi District Mr. Emile Nyabyenda said the research findings presented during the forum had pointed out all the areas where the district faces challenges.
During the forum, participants identified several urban governance challenges facing Rusizi district.
The major ones include inadequate public infrastructure such as roads, and utilities like water and electricity, inadequate sites to extract locally available building materials such as sand leading to high cost of building residential and commercial buildings and lack of recreational facilities in Rusizi town.

Other changes include soil erosion and limited improved healthcare facilities with adequate and trained medical personnel leading the Rusizi communities to seek specialized medical services in Kigali.

Besides the challenges, Rusizi district has enormous potential. Bordering with the City of Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC), Rusizi is well positioned to become a cross-border trade hub given the vibrancy of Bukavu economy.

According to the 2012 Rwanda Population Census, the population of Rusizi district was 483,615 people while the recent statistics of the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda(NISR) show that poverty rate in Rusizi is at 33.5%.

Urban Governance Forum in Rubavu District

The forum in Rubavu district was organized on March 18, 2022 and brought together the district’s stakeholders including representatives of the private sector, civil society, academia and research and the district administration.

Bordering with the City of Goma in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC), Rubavu is well positioned to become a logistics, trade and tourism hub. However, as the district’s urban areas expand, they come with challenges.

Some of these urban governance challenges as identified by the stakeholders include fatal volcanic eruptions which destroy property and displace people, lack of a city master plan, unfair expropriation of families and property to pave way for development, inadequate public infrastructure and inadequate agricultural land.

During the forum, the Mayor of Rubavu Mr. Ildephonse Kambogo outlined Rubavu’s seven-year development vision reaching 2024, which might offer solutions to some of the challenges. Tourism, agriculture, and infrastructure development are some of the vision’s pillars.

The district is in the final stage of completing the Rubavu city master plan.


The stakeholders’ forums in the secondary cities revealed both challenges and enormous potentials for these cities to develop into next poles of growth to relieve pressure on the City of Kigali.

To achieve their full potential, the secondary cities should expedite the development and roll-out of the master plans for their urban areas and invest in research to consistently collect data to guide evidence-based policy and decision making. The authorities should take advantage of the urban governance forums to engage the all the stakeholders while seeking solutions for the existing challenges.

About IPAR Rwanda

The Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR-Rwanda) is the leading independent, not-for-profit research and policy analysis Think Tank in Rwanda. It became fully functional in 2008 with the support of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

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The Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR) is an independent, non-partisan Pan-African not-for-profit organization established in 2011 and located in Nairobi, Kenya. Currently engaged in more than 12 African countries, PASGR works to enhance research excellence in governance and public policy that contributes to the overall wellbeing of women and men.

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