Kigali’s informal settlements to be upgraded through AFD support

The city of Kigali, which has been growing rapidly since 1990, is facing strong spatial expansion in an area that is highly constrained by its topographical and climatic characteristics. Despite the land reform launched in 2009 and a level of access to essential services that is higher than the regional average, 60% of the population lives in informal settlements that are landlocked and subject to high natural risks induced by climate change.

AFD and the European Union are financing a project that aims to improve the living conditions of the inhabitants of three informal settlements in Kigali while encouraging low-income households to stay in the city. More specifically, this project should allow better access to essential services and preservation of the urban fabric. The European Union will be supporting this project through a EUR 10 million grant to the government of Rwanda, to be signed in the coming days.

To achieve this, the project will focus on three areas: improving access to basic infrastructure and social services for all residents of the Kagugu, Rwezamenyo and Nyakabanda neighborhoods; supporting the transformation of public intervention in favor of informal settlements aiming at resilient trajectories (citizen participation and co-design, improvement of tools or internal processes within the city of Kigali); and finally, testing the development of decent and affordable rental housing solutions for low-income households.

“Kigali as the prime economic hub of Rwanda will have to accommodate a much larger population with well-planned and safe neighborhoods. About 63 percent of Kigali’s settlements are considered unplanned, characterized by limited access to basic infrastructure and poor living conditions. Accordingly, upgrading of unplanned settlements continues to be an important priority for the City of Kigali as well as the Government of Rwanda, supported by policies such as the National Urban Informal Settlements Upgrading Strategy, and the City-Wide Unplanned and Underserviced Settlements Upgrading Strategy for Kigali, the Urbanization Sector Strategic Plan for 2018-2024 which includes the policy target of reducing the percentage of the urban population living in unplanned settlements by around 10 percent. This project aims at supporting the CoK to improve its neighborhood planning and investments, ”  Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning said.

Pudence Rubingisa, the Mayor of the City of Kigali explained: “This project will increase City of Kigali resilience to disasters especially in areas characterized by informal settlements where the level of vulnerability is high. It will also ensure a good connectivity between the selected areas and the surrounding urban areas thus improving the mobility of the citizens. and creating more jobs and economic opportunities within the targeted neighborhoods.”

“This new project is very comprehensive, as it will reduce inequalities in these neighborhoods with a particular emphasis on gender, while improving the resilience of populations to climatic events, particularly floods. It will also allow for the participation and inclusion of residents in development decisions in their neighborhoods,” said Arthur Germond, AFD’s Director in Rwanda.

“Almost two years after President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Kigali, French collaboration is pursuing its commitment to Rwanda’s ambitious development path. The rehabilitation of Kigali informal settlements will improve the lives of 60,000 residents vulnerable to climate change. France is pleased to strengthen its partnership with the City of Kigali, to build resilience and sustainability” highlighted French Ambassador Antoine Anfré.

EU Ambassador Belén Calvo Uyarra underlined: ‟As Team Europe, we are proud to support the government of Rwanda ambitions for sustainable urbanisation and in providing better living conditions for residents of Kigali’s unplanned settlements. This project is part of a wider Team Europe Initiative, within the main Flagship of the Global Gateway strategy, in which the European Union is working together with its Member States and international financing institutions, such as AfD, to provide more coordinated support to partner governments. Altogether, Team Europe is so far providing EUR 280 million to support urbanization in Rwanda.

A site visit, bringing together the French and European ambassadors, together with the Vice-Mayor of Kigali, was also organized on March 24 to allow them to assess the current situation and discuss with future beneficiaries.