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  • Unplanned settlements in Kigali have been expanding due to rapid urbanization
  • The City of Kigali wants to get ahead of the curve and avoid the situation of other urban centers in emerging markets, where unplanned settlements have quickly turned into sprawling slums.
  • The City of Kigali is embarking on a large-scale effort to upgrade certain unplanned settlements in the city, but is also exploring other more cost effective ways to improve service provision in unplanned settlements.
  • The problem is that the city does not currently have much data on the composition of these areas – the employment situation of households, their housing, mobility and/or migration patterns.
  • Moreover, these areas that are in constant flux – with high mobility between settlements – so what is needed is not just a snapshot but relatively high frequency data.


  • The solution Laterite designed - and is currently piloting with the City of Kigali and the International Growth Center (IGC) - is to create a dynamic and representative sample of citizens in unplanned settlements and to track them on key indicators using a mix of face-to-face and SMS surveys.
  • One of the key innovations of this project is the use of high-frequency SMS surveys to inform policy decisions, a first in Rwanda.
  • This high-frequency data will be made available to the city in an online dashboard, for policy makers to track.
  • Another innovation is the development of a representative panel of residents in Kigali’s unplanned settlements who, to the extent possible, are representative of the population of Kigali’s unplanned settlements.
  • The use of panels is common practice in market research in large markets, but has never been used before in Rwanda for policy purposes


  • The outcome of this effort will be high frequency and high-resolution data on the situation of residents in unplanned settlements in Kigali, focusing on employment, housing, mobility, migration and basic service provision (water, electricity, garbage collection, sanitation).
  • This study will also test whether high-frequency SMS surveys and targeted panels can become useful data collection tools for the City of Kigali.
  • Our hope is that these tools can find many more applications for the City of Kigali, for example to collect feedback on the quality of services or on disaster management.