Cow rearing in Rwanda

Giving families in Rwanda the gift of cows, so they can overcome poverty and thrive!

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The Need

In Rwanda, many families live in extreme poverty, barely making enough to survive. These families simply can’t afford basic necessities like nutritious food, safe housing, clothing and health care. In fact, 49 per cent of children in Rwanda have stunted growth and are suffering from malnutrition. Many of these children are forced to drop out of school because their parents can’t afford school fees. These children have no choice but to give up on their dreams.

Cow-rearing programs in Rwanda have been very successful in helping families emerge from extreme poverty. By owning a cow, caregivers are able to produce and sell livestock products like milk, which are not only a good source of nutrition for their families but also a source of sustainable income. In fact, since the “own a cow” government initiative began five years ago, the percentage of underweight children in Rwanda has fallen from 38 per cent to 25 per cent. Entire communities have benefited, as livestock rearing boosts local agriculture and creates jobs.

Further, it is a Rwandan tradition that when cows give birth, families give the first female calf to another family in need. This process, known as kuziturirana, brings communities together in a common goal: eliminating extreme poverty and helping families thrive. As the country continues to heal from the Rwandan genocide, traditions like kuziturirana are extremely important.

But the families our Compassion centres serve simply cannot afford to purchase a cow. Even if they could afford it, many of them have no idea how to raise cows properly. Twenty four families from four Compassion centres have suitable space and land to raise a cow and grow its feed but they need help to see their dreams of a better life come true.

Our Response

Thanks to your generous gift, four of our frontline church partners in southern and eastern Rwanda are providing cows to 24 families in need. Veterinarians from within each church’s geographical area trained families on how to care for a cow, including how to feed, clean and shelter them properly. Caregivers constructed cow sheds on their properties, following the guidance provided during training. Because of strict criteria set by local government authorities, the procurement process for the cows was slower than anticipated. One church partner was able to secure all the cows requested but the three others had to lower the number of cows by two and re-issue their tenders. While RW0624 and RW0641 were able to quickly get suppliers, RW0260 had to issue their tender four times before they found a supplier. Their cows have been delivered in several phases rather than all at once and they are currently waiting on the delivery of one final cow. Otherwise, all the families you are supporting through this initiative have received their cows and are rearing them at home. Our partners report that families are taking good care of their cows and are already seeing some improvements in their income and nutritional status.


Cow delivery ceremonies: Families were overjoyed to receive their cows! Churches marked the occasion with special celebrations that included participating in traditional dances and songs. Church leaders, local government officials and community members were all in attendance.

Tools: Along with the cows, families received cow salt for the cows to eat, as well as cattle spray and sprayer tools to deter ticks and flies.

Cow rearing: Churches report that families are happy to be rearing their cows and are doing a good job of taking care of them in a clean, safe environment where the cows can thrive.

Nutrition and income: Nineteen cows have already given birth and families are enjoying drinking the nutritious milk. Some families are also selling the cow milk locally.

Your Gift Provides...

• Cows for 24 families in Rwanda (one cow per family)
• Training for caregivers on modern animal rearing techniques
• Animal feed
• Cow-barn construction
• Professional consultation and labour
• Follow-up and reporting

ReportThank you for your generosity

Your generosity is bringing real, lasting hope to 24 families. Cow rearing is deeply rooted in Rwandan culture, and receiving a cow is a life-changing event for families living in poverty. The families who are benefiting from this initiative know their lives will never be the same, and they are so grateful. Furthermore, the practice of kuziturirana will ensure that even more families will benefit from your investment in the months and years to come, bringing sustainable change to these communities. In fact, 19 of the cows purchased through your support have already given birth!

Livestock rearing is a proven way to support sustainable food security and economic growth. Families can drink the nutrient-rich cow milk, and the use of cow manure on family farms helps improve crop yield. As families continue rearing their cows and selling the produce, their income will improve so they can provide for their children’s essential needs.

Families are so happy that they were chosen to benefit from this intervention, and they know their lives will continue to change for the better. Having received cow rearing training, constructed the cow sheds and planted animal feed, they were well prepared to take care of their cows and are applying the lessons they learned with great success. Because of you, these families can face the future with hope instead of despair. They are anticipating just how drastically their living conditions will continue to change because of this initiative and want you to know that they continuously pray blessings upon the people who made this dream come true. Thank you for your generous support, which is already changing lives!