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

    1. Study Information


      This section discusses the 2014 article by Daniel  Ayalew Ali, Klaus Deininger, and Markus Goldstein, “Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: Pilot evidence from Rwanda.”1

      The study looked at the impacts of the Rwandan land tenure regularization pilot. A key methodological challenge for a rigorous socio-economic assessment of the pilots was the lack of baseline data. To deal with this, this study conducted in Rwanda adopted a spatial discontinuity design and administered a short survey containing some questions that ask for recall at the start of the program. A survey administered in April–May 2010, about 2.5 years after the start of land tenure regularization, was used to obtain information for 3554 households with some 6330 parcels. The sample was to be distributed equally on both sides of the pilot cell boundary to create a treatment group (within the titled cell) and control group (those just across the border in non-program cells).

    2. Questions posed
      • In the land regularization areas, is there evidence of an increase in land-related investment, intergenerational impacts (inheritance), and/or the frequency of land transactions and credit access?
    3. Description of intervention

      Land regularization pilot (clarified rights, but did not register) in 4 cells covering 14,908 parcels with an area of 3448 ha, owned by 3513 households.

    4. Context of findings

      Study was done 2.5 years after completion of rights certification in the pilot area. Looked at female-headed households and male-headed households with some focus on women within male-headed households. During the pilot, the land rights of women in informal marriages were not overtly protected by law, as informal marriages are not addressed by law at all. Thus, women in informal marriages did not have their land rights documented. This was remedied in the roll out.

    5. Key findings

      For the sub-sample of married couples (with and without marriage certificates), the finding points towards a negative effect of Land Tenure Regulation (LTR) by itself.

      This is because for women not legally married (i.e., without a marriage certificate), LTR resulted in a statistically significant reduction of the probability of having documented land ownership. However, women in a union with a marriage certificate (76% in this sample) experienced a strong positive program effect and were more likely to be regarded as joint land owners after LTR than before.

      Individuals whose parcels had been certified doubled their investment in soil conservation, and female-headed households almost tripled their investment.

      The LTR required heirs to be listed on the document and there was virtually no gender bias in who was listed. Exception: female heads of household followed the tradition of male heirs.

    6. Unanswered questions
      • Why did female heads of household show gender bias and choose male heirs?
    1. Ali, D.A., Deininger, K., and Goldstein, M. (2014). “Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: pilot evidence from Rwanda.” Journal of Development Economics, vol. 110, 2014, 262-275.