KIGALI - The deadline for local government leaders to return all cows distributed to wrong beneficiaries under the ‘One Cow per Household’ project commonly known as Girinka has been set for January 15.
Agriculture Minister Dr. Agnes Kalibata said they are targeting to repossess between 6,000 and 7,000 animals that were meant for poor families but instead ended up in the hands of wrong beneficiaries including local leaders.
The initial figure of 17,000 animals includes those given out by NGOs such as Send-a-Cow and Heifer international, which could also have gone to wrong individuals, but the ministry has no control over them.
In an interview with The New Times, Kalibata said that the process to recover the cows, which has been going on for the last 3 weeks is going on well and about 4,000 are ready to be returned and redistributed to the rightful beneficiaries.
“When I look at the numbers, they are very encouraging, about 4,000 are ready to be returned. I think we are doing very well, the trends are promising,” said Kalibata.
She seemed optimistic that all cows will be recovered but added that leaders who fail to accomplish the task will face the music.
“Leaders are the ones who gave out the cows and they are the ones to return them. We are not shooting in the dark, the people who are responsible know themselves and they know whoever took a cow,” Kalibata stated.
“If local leaders don’t meet this deadline as we agreed, then they will have to be responsible for the consequences to follow,” said Kalibata without stating the steps to be taken.
The Girinka saga emerged during the recent National Dialogue that thousands of well-to-do families benefited from the project that was primarily aimed at helping the poor.
Some local leaders who were in charge of implementing the programme were accused of giving themselves the animals, while others gave them to well- to-do families under the pretext that the poor could not afford to look after the hybrid cows.
President Paul Kagame last month put the Ministry and Rwanda Agriculture and Livestock Development Authority to task over circumstances under which the cows meant to benefit poor families instead ended up in the hands of well-to-do families.
Despite the problems in implementing the programme, the government has distributed over 70,000 cows since 2006, and targets to distribute at least 250,000 cows to poor households.