The Government and civil society organisations have signed an agreement to facilitate faster and effective implementation of social protection programmes, including reaching the target of distributing of 350,000 cows to needy households by end of the year under One-Cow-per-Poor Family programme, Girinka.
At least 280,000 cows have so far been distributed to vulnerable families, according to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI).
The figures imply that there is a gap of about 70,000 cows to be filled.
Girinka is hailed by beneficiaries to have improved their livelihoods through milk consumption and sale of milk products, as well as providing manure for farmland.
But misappropriation of cows by some local leaders, low productivity due to poor care or feeds, sale of cows, among others, were identified among the challenges by a joint assessment team of three ministries carried out in May and June 2016.
Officials said the new understanding is expected to address these challenges.
The civil society will start by distributing 1,500 cows to beneficiaries, officials said.
The cows were bought thanks to Rwf1.1 billion offer by the Private Sector Federation (PSF) in support of the Girinka scheme.
MINAGRI Permanent Secretary Jean Claude Kayisinga told journalists during the signing event in Kigali, yesterday, that about 3,000 cows from the ministry would also be distributed this year.
He said the partnership with the civil society would bring more experience in dealing with people, which will ensure informed policy and decision-making.
“We are also mobilising more resources through our development partners, through Rwandans themselves, or international actors to meet the set target by the end the year,” Kayisinga said.
Transparency and profitability
According to RGB, research carried out on citizens’ perception on governance and service delivery by local government entities in 2016 showed that 34.6 per cent of citizens believed that some deserving residents did not get cows, while 28.1 per cent said some beneficiaries did not deserve.
Rwanda Agriculture Board announced in October last year that it had recovered 2,437 cows out of the 5,241 that had been irregularly distributed as some ended in the hands of the wrong beneficiaries, while others were sold by beneficiaries.
Beneficiaries of Girinka are Rwandans in the first and second Ubudehe social stratification categories, meaning those who are financially vulnerable.
About 16 per cent of Rwandans are in the category, information from Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) shows.
RGB chief executive Anstase Shyaka said civil society organisations meant to implement the programme would use their experience and skills in social development initiatives to guarantee impressive results.
Rwanda Development Organisation executive secretary Eugene Rwibasira said the civil society’s cooperation would also provide fodder seeds, management, income generation and project proposal development.
Heifer International Rwanda country director Charles Kayumba said they will also get involved in value chains to link farmers to the market, link the farmers with service providers and financial institutions.
“It’s not just a question of putting the cow in the hands of a farmer, but also accompanying the farmer to make sure that the cow has an impact on the family and the nation as well,” he said.
Figures from MINAGRI show that milk production in the country increased from 7,000 tonnes in 1994 to over 700,000 tonnes.
Girinka was initiated in 2006 as one of Rwanda’s homegrown solutions to socio-economic problems.