This report presents the city of Kigali’s neighbourhood characteristics and identified inequalities among the rich and poor neighbourhoods. The indicators of the study include housing and amenities, income, migration, education, health, neighbourhood safety and satisfaction, as well as impact of Covid-19 on families. Data are derived from the survey conducted in the city of Kigali from May 2021 to July 2021 as part of the SHLC research programme.

Authors: Vincent Manirakiza, Jonas Kato Njunwa, Leon Mugabe, Pierre Claver Rutayisire, Manasse Nzayirambaho, Gilbert Nduwayezu, Josephine Malonza, Aimable Nsabimana


Remarkable differences and inequalities were evident in the neighbourhoods studied in Kigali. The majority of residents from the middle- and high-income neighbourhoods live in their own flats and detached houses, whereas residents in the lower income group neighbourhoods dwell in cluster houses in complexes with a high population density. The main explanation for this disparity is that mortgage finance is still limited and not affordable to many urban residents. As such, mostly low-income earners use their own family savings to build their homes, usually in an unplanned fashion. Consequently, such unplanned neighbourhoods have crowded living conditions with shared toilet facilities, usually associated with communicable disease transmission. Disparities between neighbourhood categories illustrate that there are aspects of life where the well to do are at an advantage; and that in matters of education and healthcare, services are available to all despite variation in their quality where for the rich it is mainly private and for the others public. This study helps to understand the living conditions of the city residents from the bottom to the top of the economic spectrum. In particular, it permitted not only the analysis of the progress made by the city of Kigali in improving the livelihoods of people, but also in depicting the inequalities among the various strata of urban residents. Income inequality is a common urbanisation evil in the world, from which Kigali is not exempted. Despite the disparity, in terms of dwelling categories, the high rate of housing ownership and predominantly detached houses, can be an indicator of relative liveability and quality of life. However, this is a threat to sustainable urban planning as it is the cause of rapid spatial expansion which is related to high rate of mobility.