Rwanda is infamous for its horrific 1994 genocide; but it is also increasingly well known for its resilient response to that tragedy. Rwanda's leadership has adopted urban planning as a key strategy to stimulate economic growth, heal social tensions and preserve the natural environment, as it transforms from a subsistence agrarian economy to a human resource based economy.
Rwanda is a microcosm of global urbanisation; in the next 20 years, its capital city, Kigali, will grow from 1 million people to a city of 3 million people. The planning work outlines an implementable framework centered on sustainable, holistic and locally based solutions, which acutely address issues commonly felt in developing cities such as growth of informal settlements, environmental degradation, rapid population growth and lack of services and economic investment.
The goal has been to create a new 'clean, green and safe' Kigali, promoting its emergence onto the regional and world stage and becoming a model for development which is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. The plans reflect integration of the natural environment with transect / terrain based planning, and concentrated development, as well as principles for establishing urban agriculture, sustainable transportation and infrastructure systems.
The primary module for planning considers 'the way people live' with compact, pedestrian-friendly and diverse communities; each neighbourhood is centered on a primary school with co-located health clinic, worship centre, internet café, shops, micro-enterprises and public gathering space.
The Kigali Master Plans were developed through a participatory process, that itself built the capacity of the institutions needed to implement it. The project plans incorporate capacity building on the basic principles of sustainable urbanism, as well as how plans are linked to regulatory tools to assist the Rwandan people in achieving a remarkable and bold vision away from a somber past toward a bright hopeful future.