In the Bugesera district, in the East of Rwanda, the local population is often confronted with the problem of drought and the resulting famines that endanger the primary livelihood of a family agriculture, done in small plots of land with traditional technics. In this context, the most vulnerable are the children and women who, if widowed or abandoned, must feed their family and provide health insurance
The idea of the “One Cow” project was born out of the government initiative “Cow program for poor family” designed to support the most vulnerable parts of the population by promoting a traditional economic activity: breeding. In view of the validity of this program, in 2013 the Marcegaglia Foundation has decided to put this program into place in one of the poorest areas in the country, in the district of Bugesera and in particular in the village of Rilima. Thanks to local referents, 20 widows and mothers, eager to test themselves in a new activity, were found. Each one has been entrusted with a pregnant cow and all that is needed to take care of it. The beneficiaries have been trained on how to hold the animal and accompanied during the first months. Soon the project has been extended to give 50 other women 3 goats each, easier to keep even in small farmland.
The positive effect of the project has been apparent after a few months: thanks to the milk produced women have improved their families’ feeding and started a small income generating activity to be able to pay health insurance, send children to school and live with dignity.
After three years of activity the beneficiaries are about 200 but will continue to increase because the born calves will be given to other women thus creating a virtuous circle of development.
The Giramata Cooperative was born in 2013 because of the desire of women to benefit from supporting each other even through a shared bank account to withdraw in case of difficulties. Thanks to the constant support of the local referents they have decided to become a cooperative by starting some income generating activities such as the production of pictures painted locally, called Imigongo and the cultivation of pineapples. At present, the co-operative named Abizeranye is comprised of 22 women who are also committed to supporting the weaker people in the community by paying health insurance to the indigent families and distributing the milk produced to counter malnutrition of children.
In Rwanda, a cow or three goats can represent an opportunity for a mother in need in order to start a dignified life, support her family, and rediscover confidence in her abilities. Help us extend the One Cow project to other women ready to engage in farming.