Socio-economic baseline survey of communities affected by the new land use plan of Gishwati

Gishwati ecosystem has a complex lithology and landscape diversity due to elevation differences from valley bottom to mountain summits. Since 1980’s, the natural Gishwati forest has been heavily affected by human activities prior to the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.

 

After the genocide of 1994, the part of the remaining former Gishwati forest was converted into agriculture, livestock and settlement lands. The drastic change of the natural vegetation cover caused landslides and erosion treatening, leading the local communities to live with regular risks of land-slide and floodings in the area.

 

Additional to this, there has been huge flooding in September, 2007 that caused damages to the people and the new ecosystem. Following these floodings, the local governments of Nyabihu and Rubavu Districts re-settled the affected population, while the GoR initiated and implemented the Gishwati Water and Land Management project (GWLM).

 

The GWLM project aims at effectively challenging the landslide and erosion risks by concerted efforts of the local government (MINALOC), the beneficiary farmers, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MINIRENA), and Ministry of Agriculture and Animals Resources (MINAGRI).

 

In order to solve this environmental pressure, the GWLM project, identified, defined and materialized three land use systems: (1) Crop land; (2) Rangeland; (3) Forest land. The forest land was then gazetted as a public domain, and consequently, a certain number of households or land exploiters were requested to leave that particular area. The affected households were resettled in different resettlement sites of Nyabihu, Rutsiro and Rubavu districts, and compensated with agriculture land with an average of 0.5 ha per household which is significantly different from the previous land holdings. Similarly, the affected households were left to some extent without any other economic activity.

 

The aim of this study was provide information on the socio economic conditions of resettled households from the Gishwati forest in order to define areas of potential interventions such as advocacy for the improvement of resettled people’s livelihoods and the intention was to gain their perceptions about the challenges they are currently facing as results of being resettled as well as their proposed exit options.

 

To validate the objectives of this study, data was collected from both public consultation in the form of focus group discussion and individual survey.

 

Key informants including local authorities were also consulted to get more clarifications on certain aspects relative to this study’s purpose. Major challenges and proposed solutions per each area where these people were resettled are documented in this report. In addition, findings from household survey are also documented in this report. Some of key challenges identified include and not limited to the following:

 

• Serious food insecurity (hunger) and lack of medical insurance for the majority of households are documented as part of challenges;

 

• Limited land parcels between 0.25 and 1 ha restrain the respondents for expansion of their house construction and also for crop cultivation. Thus, this contributes to the lower productivity and hence to food insecurity in terms of food availability;

 

• Lack of facilitation to gain loan or other finances services for them to implement their small scale projects. This is linked to lack of land titles that can still be used as part of guaranty for the application of loans;

 

• Limited opportunities of jobs. The new areas where these resettled people stay are characterized by limited job opportunities. There is need to avail the training facilities such as in arts in order to allow youth access some jobs and at the same time avoid rural immigration;

 

• There is evidence of lack of sufficient water and sanitation facilities. These have some health implications. Possible interventions in this area are likely to contribute to the wellbeing of these resettled people.

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