The Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) says it has recovered 2,437 of the 5,141 Girinka cows that were irregularly distributed .
Dr. Christine Kanyandekwe, Head of Animal Resources Department at the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) said that in May and June this year, they carried out an assessment on how the cows were distributed under the Girinka Programme.
The joint assessment was conducted by RAB in partnership with the local government entities, the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC), the Ministry of Internal Security (MININTER), and the Defense Ministry to identify issues with the Girinka programme and get solutions.
Overall, the assessment found that 5,241 cows were in dubiously distributed: Some offered bribes to get the cows while others were sold.
“So far, almost half of those cows have been retrieved,” she said of the cows that are distributed to the most vulnerable.
Talking about action taken against the culprits and suspects in Girinka malpractices, Dr. Kanyandekwe said twenty two (22) civil servants and local leaders were punished with some serving prison sentences or being fired over malpractices in the progamme.
Moreover, she said, 360 civil servants and local leaders are still under investigations.
The problems that were identified during the exercise include 641 cows that were given to people who were not eligible for the programme.
Those who participated in this malpractice, the assessment revealed, were civil servants or public servants who are still government workers; those who were once civil servants but no longer work for government; local government leaders but who are not on government structure of employment (leaders at village level); stakeholders like religion, cooperatives and NGOs.
115 farmers were given cows after paying bribes, cows mysteriously vanished; or used in other activities are. They include cows that were supposed to be passed on to future Girinka beneficiaries but were sold by local leaders and the money used to build schools or other infrastructures or taken by leaders.
Dr. Kanyandekwe told Sunday Times that a Girinka beneficiary whose cow unfortunately dies or has other problems, is again put on the list of those eligible to get a cow under the Girinka Programme.
“This matter requires that we continue to follow up so that we make sure that money has been used under Girinka Programme,” she noted.
Mechanisms to tackle the issue
In February, 2016, news Ministerial instructions on Girinka were released based on the identified issues.
They lined out the criteria for the selection of beneficiaries, the provision of cows and punishment to those who commit malpractices.
For Bugesera District Mayor, Emmanuel Nsanzumuhire, the sustainable solution is to closely follow up the issue to ensure that a village selects beneficiaries and double-checks before giving them cows.
“Every Wednesday, when we go to meet the people in their sectors and cells, we read the list of the beneficiaries and ask them to tell us whether the names mentioned match with the original names. When they tell us that those names are not the right ones, we correct [the list]. I think that strategy can solve the issue,” he said.
Dr. Kanyandekwe said RAB has Rwf4.5billion budget for this initiative, but Rwf3.5 million are already in districts to buy cows, while RAB remains with the rest to buy medicines for the cows.
Girinka Programme was initiated in 2006 as one of Rwanda’s Home Grown Solutions. So far over 250,000 families have received cows under the programme while the target is 350,000 families in 2017, which implies a gap of about 100,000 cows that have to be covered.