Rwanda’s One Cow Per Poor Family Program has helped reduce malnutrition and provides a valued source of manure for the crops of the country’s most vulnerable residents, a Southern Rwanda District Mayor said Monday.
The program, implemented in 2006, provides poor Rwandan households with a dairy cow, supplying milk, which can be a source of nutrition and income for families, and manure to fertilize crops.
Rwanda’s Nyaruguru district mayor François Habitegeko said Rwanda’s “Gira inka” (one cow per family) has helped the district, changing the mentality of the local population and reducing malnutrition over the last two years.
Ninety percent of Rwanda’s cattle was slaughtered during the 1994 genocide, devastating the livelihoods of many Rwandans, according to Unicef. In Rwanda, social status is often expressed through possession of cattle, a strong symbol of wealth. One Cow Per Poor Family improves the livelihoods of those most in need and restores lost pride through recovery of a traditional symbol of wealth. The program is also contributing to the national reconciliation process, according to Unicef.
Residents testified in News of Rwanda on the success of the program.
“The cows (produce) dung which we use as manure for our crops, we get money through selling milk and our children enjoy an improved diet because of milk,” said Josephine Uwodusaba.
Nyaruguru district statistics for 2012 show malnutrition in children from birth to age 5 dropped from 5.8 percent to 0.23 percent in a year, according to the article. To date, 7,241 cows have been given to vulnerable families across Nyaruguru.
Rwanda President Paul Kagame launched the Gira inka programme in 2006. Some estimates are that as of 2011, 117,460 cows had been distributed across Rwanda, according to the report.
Read more at News of Rwanda.