Environmental and Gender Impacts of Land Tenure Regularization in Africa: Pilot Evidence from Rwanda

Authored by: Daniel Ayalew Ali, Klaus Deininger, Markus Goldstein

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Climate and Environment, Economic Participation, Political Transitions
Country: Rwanda
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2014
Citation: Ali, Daniel Ayalew, Klaus Deininger, and Markus Goldstein. "Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: Pilot evidence from Rwanda." Journal of Development Economics 110 (2014): 262-275.

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Executive Summary

We evaluate the short-term impact of a pilot land regularization program in Rwanda using a geographic discontinuity design with spatial fixed effects. Three key findings emerge from the analysis. First, the program seems to have improved land access for legally married women (about 76% of married couples) and prompted better recording of inheritance rights without gender bias. Second, we find that the program was associated with a very large impact on investment and maintenance of soil conservation measures. This effect was particularly pronounced for female headed households, suggesting that this group had suffered from high levels of tenure insecurity which the program managed to reduce. Third, land market activity declined, allowing us to reject the hypothesis that the program caused a wave of distress sales or widespread landlessness by vulnerable people. Implications for program design and policy are discussed.