Understanding unplanned settlement dynamics in the city of Kigali

Project Active from to Cities

Kigali is Rwanda’s main urban centre and accommodates about half the urban population. Rapid urban growth in Kigali has led to the development of unplanned settlements. Unplanned areas, characterised by inferior living conditions such as limited access to infrastructure, limited plot accessibility, and rudimentary housing construction-materials, pose a long-term risk to the quality of life for city residents. Official estimates put the population living in Kigali’s unplanned settlements at 79%.

It is against this backdrop that Laterite, with support and funding from the IGC and in close collaboration with the City of Kigali, undertook this study. This project is a multi-dimensional effort to understand the socioeconomic profile of residents in unplanned areas and to assess the physical infrastructure in these settlements.

Key focus areas of interest include: (i) migration, (ii) employment, (iii) housing, (iv) mobility and (v) access to basic services. This study was designed to overcome the gap in information on the socio-economic situation of residents in unplanned settlements. An explicit objective of this study was also to pilot a methodology to:

  • Create a representative sample of residents living in unplanned areas of the city; and
  • To test the use of SMS surveying as a tool for the city to gather high-frequency data on residents in unplanned settlements.

The data presented in the final report is based on a sample of 1,594 households living in unplanned settlements. Households were randomly selected in identified unplanned areas of the city; eligibility criteria included owning a mobile phone and having used this phone in the past two weeks. SMS surveys were conducted over a three-month period and yielded unusually high response rates of over 50%. We believe that this is due to a mix of training, reminders, incentives, and the deployment of an initial face-to-face survey.