As part of efforts to reconstruct Rwanda and nurture a shared national identity, the Government of Rwanda drew on traditional practices in Rwandan culture to adapt its development programs to the country’s needs and context.
As part of efforts to reconstruct Rwanda and nurture a shared national identity, the Government of Rwanda drew on traditional practices in Rwandan culture to adapt its development programs to the country’s needs and context. The result is a set of Home Grown Initiatives (HGI), which are culturally owned practices that translate into sustainable development programs. One of these is the One Cow per Poor Family program, known as Girinka in Kinyarwanda.
The 2005 Demographic and Health Survey report showed that 45% of children under five years of age suffered from moderate chronic malnutrition and 19% suffered from severe malnutrition. Almost no progress had been made since the previous survey in 2000. In addition, the 2005-6 Household Living Conditions Survey showed that poverty had actually increased since 2001. These results came as a shock since the country had embarked on a sustained socioeconomic development drive launched by the adoption and launch of Vision 2020 in 2000 and Rwanda’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper in 2002, marking the beginning in earnest of its post-genocide socio-economic reconstruction.
During the December 2006 Umushyikirano (National Dialogue Council) retreat, leaders discussed this grim socioeconomic situation, deciding to adopt a policy to distribute cows to poor households to combat child malnutrition. The scheme was later developed by the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) and named Girinka, a term that can be loosely translated as “may you have a cow”. It is also a mode of greeting in Kinyarwanda in which someone wishes another person to prosper. The idea of distributing cows to the poor initially sought to respond specifically to the challenge of child malnutrition, but it also drew inspiration from the Rwandan traditional practice of giving a cow as a sign of friendship, appreciation, or as a marriage dowry. Naturally, Girinka joined other existing HGI.
As of June 2020, more than 380,000 families had received a cow under the Girinka program, thus benefiting over 1.2 million Rwandans. Girinka has also contributed to an increase in agricultural production in Rwanda, especially milk products which have helped to reduce malnutrition and increase incomes. Read More