Food Security and The local approach; Lessons from Rwanda I

Rwanda, a landlocked country in East Africa with total land area of 26,338 Km² which are dominated by highlands, giving it the name “Land of A Thousand Hills”.

The lowest point in the country is 950m above sea level. Equivalent to the height of popular Idanre hill (~1053m) in Ondo State.

The April 1994 onslaught increase the country’s vulnerability to diseases, hungers and poor welfare of her citizens.

Thanks to PK (as the locals called him) because the country has been fearing better under his leadership.

One of the post conflicts effects in the country is high level of malnutrition among rural households especially children.

To address this, two options are available (from my point of view)

1. Open boarders and encourage importation of milk and protein rich foods.

2. Develop home grown solution.

To a broom and umbrella government somewhere in Africa, option 1 would have been very enticing. But a thoughtful leader like PK who understands the Sustainability of home grown solution considered the second option which eventually paid off.

In 2006 operation one cow one household was launched. The locals called it Girinka. The goal is to ensure every household in Rwanda has a cow.

The program was set up with the central aim of reducing child malnutrition rates and increasing household incomes of poor farmers. These goals are directly achieved through increased access to, and consumption of milk, by providing poor households with a heifer. The program is crucial to addressing the fundamental needs of those parts of the country that are critically food insecure

A government official in a country called Niger Area will see this as business opportunity and run to Chile or Argentina to import cow.

But in Rwanda’s case, it wasn’t so.

Some houses already have cow and the government bought some cattle (very few) and gifted the rural families that doesn’t have.

Here is the gist,

Households who has cow, were encourage to help their neighbors by giving them. So as a family, if my Cow give birth to a cow I will dash my neighbor that doesn’t have. If it is a bull, it’s mine. I can sell or eat it. I keep giving the new born cows till all my neighbors have gotten.

Photo credit: Rwanda Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources

As at 2013, over 144,000 cows had been distributed under the Girinka program to the rural households.

This initiative increased milk production and provided other benefits, including manure to improve soil fertility.

Between 2006 and 2011, national milk production increased by 221% rising to 503 million liters in 2012.

Photo credit: Rwanda Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources

As at 2013, over 144,000 cows had been distributed under the Girinka program to the rural households.

This initiative increased milk production and provided other benefits, including manure to improve soil fertility.

Between 2006 and 2011, national milk production increased by 221% rising to 503 million liters in 2012.

This allows the government to start the One Cup per Child Program in schools without spending billions of RwandanFranc of tax payers money on the project. Income level of most of beneficiaries has been increasing through the selling of milk.

This is what I called home grown solution to local food (in) security problem not white elephant solutions imported to siphon funds.

Throughout my stay, my day will never complete without a cup of fresh from the farm milk.

Rwanda, A country of a thousands hills. I hail thee!!!

Akinwale Gabriel Olafare

A technical writer, Greenprenuer, SDG Enthusiast, passionate about sustainable developments in the rural communities.

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