Livestock,and especially cattle, have historically played multiple roles both in economiclife and in socio-cultural traditions of Rwandan people. Cattle have beenvalued not simply as a source of food (milk, blood and meat) and hides but alsoas a visible form of wealth and a source of social prestige. Therefore, cattlehave a high potential for poverty reduction and welfare for rural people.Recognizingthe various potential benefits and services that farm animals can provide, thegovernment of Rwanda implemented a program called “Girinka” (one cow per poorfamily) for poverty alleviation. This program has been approved by the Rwandancabinet in 2006 as one the 2020 vision implementation measures designed to moveRwanda to a middle income nation by the year 2020. The program was initiated asa response to the high level of poverty and child malnutrition reported inRwanda in 2006 from the Demographic Health Survey carried out in 2005 (Rwandapedia,2013). The program aims also at promoting climate resilience among poorrural families.
TheGirinka program aims to improve the livelihoods of poor households by givingthem a dairy cow which for increased milk, meat and fertilizer production(Rwandapedia, 2013). Specifically, the aim of the program is: – Toreduce poverty through the money from the sale of cow products- Todecrease malnutrition through milk consumption as child malnutrition is aneminent concern- Toincrease crop production by increased manure production used as fertilizers- Toprotect soil through grass plantation: Beneficiaries are encouraged to plantgrasses for animal fodder on terraces to reduce soil erosion- Topromote social cohesion through the passing on the first calf to anotherhousehold1.1.1. ImplementationstrategiesUnderRwanda agriculture board (RAB), the Girinka program is funded by Government ofRwanda and its partners such as Line Ministries, local Non-GovernmentalOrganizations (NGOs) and international organizations (Heifer International,Send a Cow, World Vision, etc.).
The RAB is in charge of selection,certification, and distribution of cows, their follow-up and the management ofboth centralized budget and donations (Rwandapedia, 2013).TheGirinka program provides local breeds (Ankole), cross breeds, Jersey andFriesian breeds (Ntanyoma, 2010). Cows provided must be between 18 and 24months old and weigh at least 250kg and free from brucellosis and contagiousbovine pleura-pneumonia (Rwandapedia, 2013). Thebeneficiaries of program receive the cow in two ways. They can get a cow as aloan (Girinka y’inguzanyo) or as a donation (Girinka y’ingabirano). For theGirinka y’inguzanyo, beneficiaries receive cows as loans from the RwandaNational Bank without a mortgage. The beneficiaries must have a cow shed,sufficient land for fodder cultivation and they must be able to care for thecow.
For Girinka y’ingabirano, the poor family receives a pregnant heifer andwhen it calves, the first calf or the mother, depending on the district, isgiven to the neighbor’s poor family who keeps it and gives the next calf or themother to the next poor neighbor and so on. Forthe selection of beneficiaries, all Village members facilitated by the Villageleader makes a list of poor households that should receive a cow. The list isdone in order of priority and it is given to the Cell and Sector leaders. WhenGirinka cows get available, they start by households on the top of the list(Rwandapedia, 2013). According to GoR, 2006, to be on the list, a beneficiarymust meet the following criteria: – Notalready own a cow- Bea person of integrity in the community- Beconsidered as poor by their community and have less or no other source ofincome.- Haveat least 0.25 – 0.75 hectares of land, of which a minimum of 0.
20 ha is to bedevoted for fodder production; and those who have less than 0.25 hectares mustjoin to form common cow shed (Igikumba) for their cows.- Agreeingto pass on the next heifer to another awaiting farmer- Buildinga cow shed prior to receiving the Girinka cowSomepoor beneficiaries are not able to care of the cow; the RAB provides drugs,spray pumps and mineral salts to help them to care for the cow until it calves(Rwandapedia, 2013). Moreover, beneficiaries in common cow sheds are given fewanimal feeds during the dry season. They also give a land to grow grasses, buteach one is responsible for the feeding of his/her cow. Selected beneficiariesare trained about cow practices before getting the cow. The training,monitoring and evaluation are given by the RAB in partnership with localgovernment institutions (Rwandapedia, 2013).
To minimize disease transmission through open grazing and also to maximizemanure collection, the program encourages zero-grazing (cut and curry) system (GoR 2009)..1.1.2.
AchievementInitially,the target of Girinka was to reach 257 000 beneficiaries by 2015, but thistarget was revised upwards to 350 000 beneficiaries by 2017. Since itsimplementation from 2006 to June 2016 a total of 248,566 cows had beendistributed to poor households all over the country, among which 39266 cows were given to Eastern province. Accordingto the 2015 CFSVA findings, 80 percent of all households beneficiaries of theprogram are food secure. According to Kayigema & Rugege, 2014, one cow perpoor family resulted in expanded land use, improved household nutrition andfood security. In fact, it was reported that in Bugesera district the averagearea cultivated before receiving the cow is 1.
39 hectares and 1.53 hectaresafter receiving the cow, which in turn means crop intensification (Kayigema nad Rugege, 2014). Therespondents reported that there was an increase in crop production (92.5%),eradication of child malnutrition (93.2%) and increase in savings (83.
5%).According to Smith et al (2013),income generated from dairy products or the sale of the cow can also contributeto resources needed for hiring labour for planting, weeding, harvesting orincreasing the area of land cultivated. S. K. Kim et al.
2013 reported that inNgoma district Kim et al. (2013) report that more than 90% of Girinkabeneficiaries use manure and attribute increased yields to enhanced soilfertility which has resulted from the program. Changes in agriculturalpractices resulting from the use of green fertiliser contributed to climatechange resilience, increased crop production and generated income for poorrural women. 1.1.3.
Challengesof GirinkaTheresults indicate the vulnerability of the majority of the women interviewed towater shortage stressors during extended periods of drought. They reported thatthey spend a large part of their day collecting water and that this leaves themwith little time for other productive activities (Kayigema nad Rugege, 2014).Thestudy reveals that while the government energy policy prioritizes biogas energyproduction and the use of cow dung for biogas energy generation to reducedeforestation and greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere for climateresilience, few respondents in the study could afford to buy bio digesters.Direct benefits for women who are responsible for energy and the collection ofwood for their households are not yet being reaped and depend on affordable biodigesters. The main problems reported by respondents were inadequate veterinaryservices for care of the cow, the frequent search for water sources duringdroughts and insufficient land to grow fodder.InNgoma district, it was reported that although most farmers kept their cowsunder cattle sheds (79%), many of these sheds are of poor quality constructiondesign and materials (e.g.
, inadequate interior spacing, absence of orimprovised roofing, etc.) (S. K. Kim et al. 2013). Clearly, it isdifficult to expect resource-poor farmers to build optimal cattle houses whentheir basic housing needs are often not yet met (i.e.
, without proper roofingor flooring)A further problemidentified (0.8%) is corruption by the Ubudehe committee, the body responsiblefor overseeing the propagation of the Girinka programme whereby beneficiariesgive a calf to a needy neighbor ((Kayigema nad Rugege, 2014). Insufficient orno land for fodder cultivation (1.5%) and the difficulty of caring for calvingcows experienced by elderly beneficiaries (1.5%) were also cited as problems.