Sustainable Land Use Fellow Alexis Rutagengwa talks about using geospatial data to spur sustainable development in Rwanda.
Who is Alexis Rutagengwa, the food systems leader?
I am an urban and land use planner with more than 10 years of experience in land management. I am currently the Head of Land Use Management and Mapping at Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority.
Tell us about your work at the authority. What does a typical day look like?
I work with a dedicated team to regulate how land is used in Rwanda to ensure sustainability to support the country’s development agenda and Vision 2050. We are currently developing 27 districts land use plans (DLUPs) under the 2020 National Land Use and Development Master Plan. It is an ambitious task. Our daily work is to streamline land use planning from national to local level for sustainable development. We also create, standardise and make accessible the country’s geospatial data through the National Spatial Data Infrastructure framework. The work is collaborative, involving the input of different stakeholders including other government institutions, private sector, development partners and communities.
What big plans do you have as a food systems leader in the next five years and how has the Fellowship influenced these plans?
My plan is to continue coordinating the development of land use plans in urban and rural areas in Rwanda to ensure that towns and agricultural areas are planned in a balanced and sustainable manner. This will contribute to national socio-economic development without compromising food security. The African Food Fellowship has helped me understand the systemic changes needed and how we should embrace collaborative leadership that engages more stakeholders from the public, private and civil society sectors.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learnt so far?
I am always working to improve what I do, especially by thinking outside the box and championing innovation. In my career, I have learnt that learning never ends, every day is an opportunity to learn new things. Second, I have learnt that with good governance, nothing is impossible to achieve, even when financial capabilities are limited. We can always find a way to bring big dreams to life.
What role do you see government playing in food systems transformation? What is a government responsibility that should not be outsourced to other stakeholders?
The key role of government is to create an enabling environment for system actors. The government has put in place policies, regulations and strategies that unlock the actions of all other stakeholders and facilitate synergies between them.
You have been a Fellow at the African Food Fellowship for six months now. Why should other young African food systems leaders apply to join the Fellowship?
This fellowship is good for young people to reflect, connect and learn from faculty and fellows from different backgrounds and experiences. This will help to understand complex food systems, shape programmes and set priorities. This training programme has been truly exciting. It has been a period of introspection for me, helping me to assess my role in transforming food systems. I am confident that sustainable land use management is an integral part of the story.