Yohani Batiste Bakinahe, 51, a resident of Kabagesera cell, Runda sector in Kamonyi district, has experienced a rapid transformation in his life, thanks to a single cow donated under Girinka program.
The program that was initiated to help vulnerable families become self-sufficient in milk has surpassed its objectives to become a major source of income for beneficiaries.
For Bakinahe, the single cow he got under the one-cow-per-family programprovides him with enough milk for daily consumption and a surplus of at least 5 liters a day which he sells to get money for other basic needs.
“I am now assured of food and I am able to satisfy my family’s needs. I am also able to pay school fees for my three children,” he said.
He says that the benefit from the cow had gone beyond improving daily nutrition for the family to become a source of income that can be invested in other activities. This is in addition to the manure that adds fertility to his land.
“Before I start using the manure from the cow, my land used to yield very little, even though I sometimes used to apply artificial fertilizers. But I now produce about 100 kg of beans on the land where I used to get only 30 kg,” he added.
The manure he gets from the cow has helped him improve his agriculture mainly focusing on bananas. He says that a bunch of banana from his garden can fetch up to Frw 2500—a big boost to his earnings.
The numerous benefits from a single cow helped Bakinahe to raise income and buy more land at Frw 450,000 so as to expand his farm. He also managed to buy motorcycle at Frw 800,000 that his older son uses to transport people and generate more income for the family.
With his immediate needs taken care off, Bakinahe is now saving money thanks to the single cow he got when he was still poor 4 years ago.
“I had no a bank account a few years ago because I had no money. Now that I have many stable sources of income, I started working with some financial institutions to ensure security of my money.”
He adds that he has now saved over Frw 350,000 on his Banque Populaire du Rwanda account while another amount of Frw 55,000 is kept on his Sacco account.
Maria Uzamukunda, 43, whose husband was killed during the genocide, is another beneficiary of the program in the same sector of Runda. She says the cow has helped her look after her two children.
“I’m a widow and used to have no house, but I managed to get my own house and provide my school-going children with all basic needs. I also used to hardly get mutuelle de santé but I now pay for it myself,” she explains.
This improvement of living conditions thanks to the cow is evidently meeting the objective of alleviating poverty and improving nutrition that the government intended to achieve when it launched the program in 2006.
Under the program, 118,000 cows have been given out. The target is to give poor people 350,000 cows by the end of the program in 2015, says Clarisse Ingabire, the coordinator.
The program has emerged as one of the home-grown solutions taken from traditional culture traits and has been approved by the cabinet as one of the measures for attaining Vision 2020 and the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy.