The government has started a nationwide audit of the national cattle-stocking programme, best known as Girinka or one-cow-per-poor-family scheme.
The exercise is being spearheaded by the ministries of agriculture and that of local government and social affairs.
Officials say the audit seeks to ascertain the extent of alleged mismanagement of the programme, where in some cases poor people who deserve to receive a cow under the scheme have been left out with some of the cows instead ending up in the hands of undeserving beneficiaries because they are close to local leaders.
Initiated by President Paul Kagame in 2006, Girinka is designed to help fight poverty especially in the countryside, through donating a cow to carefully chosen poor households.
Over the last 10 years, more than 230,000 cows have been distributed under the scheme against the target of 350,000 by the end of 2017.
The programme is widely credited with transforming the lives of beneficiaries and boosting the country’s milk output, but there have been occasional complaints about how some leaders conduct the selection process to determine bona fide beneficiaries.
According to Pascal Nyabinwa, the coordinator of Girinka programme at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), the assessment started last week and will help collect all data related to the scheme since its inaugration ten years ago.
The data will include the number of cows distributed; the number of heifers passed on by beneficiaries to neighbours; the number of cows stolen, sold and killed; suspected fraud cases such as forged lists of beneficiaries, among others.
A mini assessment of the exercise in April last year showed that 2,600 cows had been sold and 60 others stolen, according to Nyabinwa.
He said the ongoing audit is more comprehensive and will gather all the data necessary to inform the next course of action.
Nyabinwa said that, in the meantime, some measures had been taken to improve the exercise, including issuance of new guidelines for the distribution and passing on of cows which require every beneficiary to sign a memorandum of understanding, indicating their full address.
It has since been established that some beneficiaries sell their cows even before passing on the first heifer to other needy households, which is unacceptable, the official noted.
The findings of the ongoing audit will be released early next month, he added.