The executive secretary of Media High Council (MHC), Emmanuel Mugisha, has said land remains a highly complex and contentious issue, involving economic, social, political, and cultural concerns and that the media has a role to play as a stakeholder in improving and promoting good governance, accountability and transparency in land sector.
Mugisha made the remarks yesterday during the opening of a one-day
workshop for media practitioners and chief editors on ‘Transparency in
land administration.’ The workshop aims at equipping journalists with
skills on reporting land-related issues.
“Land has an impact on everyone either willing or not. Journalists
are the eye of the society and there is no justification for ignoring
such an influential issue,” he said. “Transparency is a critical
component of a well functioning land administration, in particular in
view of the poor dissemination of public information on land rights and
Mugisha stressed that the risk of corruption is very real in land
allocation and management elsewhere. The consequences to the public
often take the form of difficult access to land assets, unawareness of
land policies and legal frameworks, ignorance about land transactions
and prices, misallocation of land rights, and other land issues.
He observed that national land policies have sometimes been
misunderstood because the media was ignoring them. “Our audience might
get tired of the political issues that we offer abundantly. There are
also other fields that we eventually ignore but which have a great
impact on the citizens’ daily livelihoods. Reporting on land related
issues will help mitigate land related conflicts based on ignorance
which mainly take place at the grassroots level.”
James Daale Simon, the program coordinator at Rwanda Initiative
for Sustainable Development (RISD) told the journalists that their role
should be advocacy, capacity building and policy research.
“You have to advocate for those whom you think will be affected by
‘poor’ land policies. That cannot be possible unless you have done your
‘policy’ research. But first you have to find sometimes to build their
capacities through your media with land issues related program or
articles. All these have to be pro-poor and to favor mainly the
vulnerable groups such as orphans, widows, genocide survivors.”
According to the National Institute of Statistics in Rwanda (NISR)’s
report published in 2011, 80 per cent of Rwandans survive due to
agriculture in a country of 10.7 million people (2011).
“The complexity with our land is population with a population density
of 403 people per square kilometer. Land scarcity if 81.7 per cent in
cities and 18.35 in rural areas. With this fast population growth, good
land governance becomes a priority. Isn’t that worth reporting?” asked
The workshop was organized by MHC in partnership with the World Bank,
the ministry of local government, the Rwanda Environmental Management
Authority (REMA), the Natural Resources Authority, and Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development.