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FEATURE STORYNovember 28, 2022

Burundi: Certifying Land Ownership Protects the Landscape and Women as Well


Ndayisaba Véronique


  • Landscape restoration is tackling the land certification issues in Burundi.
  • Burundian society is beginning to recognize women’s rights to access land.
  • 70% of the recognized plot includes the names of both spouses.

Bujumbura, October 2022 - The $30 million project Burundi Landscape Restoration and Resilience Project aims to restore land productivity and increase community resilience in targeted, degraded landscapes. But in its early stages, its component on land certification, designed to address some of the issues that comprise a large number of the legal cases brought before Burundian courts, has brought the project’s biggest gains.

Land certification has significantly reduced the problems related to social cohesion that we were facing in the commune of Isare. It is systematic and the boundaries of our property with that of our neighbors are no longer confused. As a household, this certificate will allow our children to peacefully enjoy their inheritance lawfully.
Salvator Habonimana and Vanessa Nyandwi
Isare commune

Some Burundian women believe that constant communication with the community, especially to men about registering both spouses’ names on the Land Certificate, lie at the core of these positive results.

"Land certification came about to give women a place in Burundian society. Previously, as the only daughter in a family of five children, I was not entitled to a piece of land. Thanks to the explanations given to us by the specialists of this project, my brothers have agreed that I get a piece of land registered in my name" testifies Ndayisaba Véronique, who came to collect her certificate.

Ndayisaba Véronique

The involvement of the communal administration has been crucial to the success of decentralizing the country’s land management system. The administration’s work has strengthened landowners’ role in the fight to manage erosion effectively and prevent landslides.

Community groups are developing hillside terracing and creating tree nurseries they wish to keep going beyond the duration of the project, using specific species of trees to stop landslides and flooding. "The population feels  indebted to the protection of land, especially when it is registered in their name," says Desiré Nsengiyumva , the Governor of the Province of Bujumbura.

Beyond the effects it has on society, the certification process has allowed landowners to secure loans from microfinance institutions, especially for income-generating activities. "Today, I came to collect my certificate that I consider as my diploma. Thanks to this certificate, I am able to apply for a loan in a microfinance institution, set up income generating activities and offer a decent life to my family," said Ndayisaba, a certificate recipient. 

The results of the project’s land certification component have far exceeded expectations. "The progress of this activity is more than satisfactory. At the beginning, we had planned to deliver land certificates to 14,000 certificates, but now we are at more than 93,000 Certificates says Odette Kayitesi, Coordinator of Burundi Landscape Restoration and Resilience Project.

Salvator Habonimana and Vanessa Nyandwi

One of the lessons learned is that "Burundian society is beginning to recognize women’s rights to access land. This is a huge leap forward in Burundi," said Sévérin Nibitanga, Managing Director of LADEC.

With the support of additional financing from the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank will support the Government of Burundi to expand the project’s activities to nine more hills in the commune of Matongo in Kayanza Province by 2024.