23 January 2013

Rwanda: Small Livestock Gives Poor Families New Lease of Life

Thanks to the program 'Support to small livestock' a big number of very poor families countrywide have seen their living conditions improve significantly. The program is a project funded by the Belgian government through the Belgian Technical Corporation (BTC) and executed by the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB).

45-year-old Philomene Muhorakeye, a genocide survivor living in Kinazi sector in Huye is the breadwinner for a family of five children. In the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis, Muhorakeye who had lost a big number of family members, saw her husband arrested, accused of charges of genocide perpetration; the man is still in prison.

"After losing my family and the arrest of my husband, I did not have hope; raising our children was a heavy cross for me to carry," she says. "I had only one thing in my head: never fail to feed my little angels. Back then, I was telling myself that they might not have the chance to go to school, but they will never spend a day without eating at least once."

In March 2011, as Muhorakeye had been identified as one of the poorest in her village, she benefited from interventions of the support program for small livestock development and received a pig. "After three months my pig gave birth to 9 piglets. I gave one to another poor family and sold the eight others, earning Frw 53,000. I was then able to pay school fees for my kids to buy some things we needed at home."

And the pig kept on giving. "For the third time, my pig has had 8 piglets and I don't plan to sell any of them. I sold the first ones because I was still trying to rebuild my life, but now I am healthy and doing relatively well; I want to raise these ones," Muhorakeye explains.

Not only have the pigs helped Muhorakeye develop financially, but also they have contributed to fertilizing her small piece of land. All her children are now studying, the youngest is in primary six. "Two of the others have finished their secondary studies and two are doing vocational training. That was my dream. For now, I want to buy a cow and add milk to my daily diet."

According to Dr Fabrice Ndayisenga, coordinator of the project at RAB, Muhorakeye is one example of more than 16,000 poor and vulnerable households in the most impoverished districts of Huye, Gisagara, Nyamagabe, Nyaruguru in Southern Province and Ngororero in the West, who have been given pigs, goats, sheep and rabbits in order to boost their living standards. So far, more than 23,000 animals were distributed to extremely poor households.

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