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December 29, 2003

A More Useful Aid

The form that aid takes ranges from food donations and debt reduction to AIDs drugs and industrial equipment. And, of course, cows.

USAID (the United States Agency for International Development) funded the donation of 503 "gift cows" to poor families in Rwanda. The gift program was designed to help give poor families both a source of milk and a source of income.

Two years ago, Celestin Bujyakera was a notorious village drunkard selling banana wine. He never made enough to pay his children's school fees, his wife's medical bills or other family expenses.

Two houses up the hill, widow Christine Mukamuhure was no better off. She made only 8 000 francs (R100) a year selling crops from her field and could manage just two meals a day for herself, her daughter and her parents.

Then US taxpayers gave them and 503 other families each a disease-resistant dairy cow in a programme designed to help Rwandans recover from the 1994 genocide, when more than 500 000 people were killed.

With a cow producing an average of 20 litres of milk a day, the families have seen their incomes from selling milk soar into the hundreds of dollars - a small fortune in this corner of Rwanda where people live on much less than R6 a day.

This kind of program--one that aids families in a more direct manner and provides an ongoing source of assistance--is the kind of thing that should be explored more throughout Africa. African aid needs to be viewed bottom up--that is, treating the source of problems, not the fallout.

A nice story and an intriguing model for direct aid--not incidentally, aid that bypasses government siphons.

Read the story.

USAID's Rwanda page.

Posted by zombyboy at December 29, 2003 10:25 AM
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