The word Girinka itself, (may you have cows) is a greeting model which is more like a blessing upon those you meet. The program is in itself therefore, symbolic of giving back value to Rwandans by giving them the most prized belonging in their tradition. In Rwandan culture, cows have always been symbols of wealth, social status; but also the best gift that one can give to another and source of nutrition i.e., milk and blood cake, meat but also hides for house decoration and carpets; the horn was used to store seeds. On weddings, dowry is paid in cows by the groom’s family to the bride’s family.
REINVENTING GIRINKA PROGRAM IN THE POST-GENOCIDE RWANDA
Girinka Program is a Home Grown Solution that emerged from the 2006 National Umushyikirano Council (NUC) as a pro-poor program to help poor families improving their welfare. The program is inspired by the Rwandan Culture. Girinka goes back in the annals of Rwandan history 17th century as a social protection measure especially in favor of children instituted by the King Mibambwe.
The concept of Girinka was first introduced by King Mibambwe Gisanura (+ 1660), who decreed that “no Rwandan child was ever to lack daily milk again while others had plenty”. Since then, Rwandans have given cattle to one another, or milk to those in need. Girinka program was revived by President Paul Kagame who in 2006 initiated the program after seeing the extent of malnutrition and stunting among Rwandan children.
THE PROGRAM OBJECTIVES
According to MINAGRI, 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.Thus, the Program reduces poverty through dairy cattle farming and improving livelihoods through increased milk consumption and income generation. Also at the helm was improving agricultural productivity through the use of manure as fertilizers which would lead to improving soil quality and reducing soil erosion through the planting of grasses and trees
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