Understanding the dynamics of unplanned settlements in Kigali, Rwanda

Policy brief Cities

  • The city of Kigali has been growing at an estimated annual rate of 4-7% in recent years. Infrastructure and housing development have struggled to keep pace with this rapid growth, with the result that 79% of Kigali’s total population live in unplanned areas. To date, information on these residents has been limited.
  • To address this gap, the researchers conducted a survey of 1,594 households in unplanned settlements in Kigali between December 2017 and March 2018.
  • It was found that high commuting costs strongly limit employment opportunities for the households living in these areas, who tend to have low-incomes and live close to their workplace.
  • The results pose three key implications for urban policy in Kigali.
    • The approach to redevelopment should be gradual and holistic, and bring jobs and transport to low-income residents.
    • Providing affordable commuting options would help connect low-income residents with a wider range of employment opportunities.
    • Improving residents’ human capital is a critical way to increase incomes.