In an effort to tackle stunting in young children, USAID Ejo Heza is targeting donations of 1900 small animals to some of the poorest households and Be the Change Volunteers in its eight districts of operations.

A recent study conducted by USAID revealed that children under 5 years in rural areas of Rwanda experience stunted growth. Stunting has a major impact on children lives as it puts children at higher risk for chronic diseases, delayed cognitive development, reductions in academic achievement and future earnings.

USAID Ejo Heza beneficiaries and “Be the Change Volunteers” gathered on December 23, 2015, on the lawn in Gishamvu sector, Huye district, for the distribution of small animals organized by the Rwanda Partner Organization DUHAMIC ADRI.

To acquire 2 rabbits or hens, beneficiaries have to belong to the VUP Ubudehe categories 1 and 2, have a child under 2 years and not practicing any small animal husbandry.

“Be the Change Volunteers” get a goat or a pig in recognition of their support to beneficiaries in the community, helping operationalizing the program during four years. Goats and pigs not only represent a source of proteins, but are also source of income from the sale of meat and agriculture inputs such as manure.

In a speech to the beneficiaries, Jeanne d'Arc Nyirajyambere, USAID Ejo Heza Senior Nutrition Specialist, stressed the importance of protein consumption for the healthy growth of children under 2 years. She urged not to sell the eggs, the rabbit or chicken itself, and buying instead a bag of sweet potatoes. “For now, these animals are only for your own consumption. Your children need proteins for their healthy growth to avoid any delayed cognitive development caused by a lack of proteins as this condition will never be cured”.

Donatire M., mother of five children is grateful for the chicken and rabbit she received. “They will for sure make a change in our nutrition. In addition to the kitchen garden which provide us with micronutrients from vegetables, rabbits reproduce themselves very quickly and chicken lay eggs. On the long haul, poultry or chicken raising is a promising income generating activity”, she said.

“I preferred to choose 2 hens because of the eggs they are laying” added Marie Grace M., beneficiary and mother of four children.

Melanie W., mother of four children and “Be the Change” volunteer in a farmer field school is grateful for the goat she received.

On December 24th 2015, Global Communities launched the USAID Twiyubake program in Huye district.

The launch was presided over by Huye district’s Vice Mayor in charge of Economic Affairs, and attended by Executive Secretaries of its 8 sectors, representatives of the Rwanda National Police and Rwanda Defense Force, district staff in charge of public health, gender and family promotion, and representatives of DUHAMIC ADRI and Global Communities USAID Twiyubake.

The program will be implemented using the cascading approach through the subgrantee Rwanda Partner Organization DUHAMIC ADRI.

In his opening remarks, the Vice Mayor of Huye district, Cyprien Mutwarasibo, discussed the successful partnership the district has experienced with DUHAMIC ADRI, which is appreciated for its expertise in different programs implemented over the past ten years. He welcomed the USAID Twiyubake program as it is aligned with the Vision 2020 target to further reduce poverty. Twiyubake will implement some of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, of which the first is no poverty, the second zero hunger. “The district is working on these programs through mobilization but also needs funds and expertise which can only be achieved in partnership with the private sector, civil society and NGOs” he stated.

After a brief presentation by Global Communities of the program, including sectors to be covered, activities to be implemented, areas of intervention and selection and enrollment procedure of households, DUHAMIC ADRI presented the program targets and strategies for Huye to the district officials.

“In the  first year of implementation DUHAMIC ADRI is targeting enrolling 3000 households throughout the eights sectors, establishing 150 savings groups which are the entry point to further program services, and establishing 24 youth savings groups”, explained DUHAMIC ADRI Program Manager Verena Nyirabarinda.

Joint Action Development Forum (JAFD) representative Leon Pierre Kayitare praised Global Communities’ initiative to present and discuss the program prior to the start of program implementation. “We used to work on a day-to-day basis with DUHAMIC ADRI in the former USAID Higa Ubeho program. Their support has definitely contributed to Huye being the best performer in the implementation of the performance contracts for the year 2015-2016. I appreciate the good relationship with the Executive Secretaries of Huye sector and the good communication we use to have. The communication is key to avoid duplications and harmonize the different activities in the sectors. As we are all ambassadors, the implementation of the USAID Twiyubake program activities will be a success”, he concluded.

In line with the National Governance month, Nyaruguru District, on December 1, 2015, celebrated its socio-economic achievements marking the end of the District Mayor’s five-year mandate. The event brought together partners and farmers and featured the Annual District Open Day exhibition and a Share-Out celebration for USAID Ejo Heza Integrated Savings and Lending Groups (ISLGs).

“Nyaruguru which was ranked the fourth poorest district in 2010, with 61 % of its population under the poverty line, recorded a poverty rate of 47% in 2014, getting closer to the targeted rate of under 30% by 2018 as stated in the EDPRS 2”, remarked the District Mayor Francois Habitegeko.

Key to this success is the partnership with district partners in alignment to the national performance contract, avoiding duplication of efforts in the area. The district partners are International NGOs, local NGOs and cooperatives which presented at the Open Day exhibition their involvement in the district ranging from promoting savings groups, agricultural value chains to women and girls empowerment and much more.

Beneficiaries from various savings groups under the USAID Ejo Heza Program celebrated the sharing out of group dividends and savings accumulated over the last 12 month cycle by presenting to the audience the livestock they had purchased with their savings.

“We joined the USAID Ejo Heza Integrated Savings and Lending Group program two years ago and formed a savings group when we were destitute women. We started with 1,100 Rwf (1.47 US $) per month, after two years I bought a cow which calved, I sold the calf and now sell milk. We are 21 members, mostly women. Seven of us have acquired cows, others goats and pigs. Of course we will continue with this group, but in this new cycle we will contribute 1,100 Rwf per week to have greater disbursements. Our goal is to buy a land plot with a house”, testified Immaculata M, leader of the group. 

“It is amazing to see how most of you started saving around 1,000 Rwf (1.34 US $) per month and after two years you own a cow”, stated Waringa Kibe, Program Coordinator of Global Communities Ejo Heza Program. She encouraged the community to continue saving to reach their individual goals, which also contribute to those of the district and the country as a whole.

Community Volunteers are key to successful program implementation as they work closely with beneficiaries in the community and ensure that program impact lasts beyond the life of the program. This was the message delivered at the USAID/Twiyubake workshop on December 8, 2015 attended by representatives from three Rwanda Partner Organizations namely Young Women's Christian Association of Rwanda (YWCA), DUHAMIC ADRI and Eglise Presbytérienne au Rwanda (EPR), the main purpose of the workshop was to present the Volunteer Opportunity Pathway Model.

The Volunteer Opportunity Pathway Model is an approach for recruiting, training, retaining and graduating volunteers, which builds on best practices and lessons learned through in-depth research and consultations with programs and organizations experienced in utilizing volunteers.

In the community, volunteers are perceived as a role model because of their accessibility, their knowledge and their passion to teach others.

In the USAID/Twiyubake program, volunteers commit themselves two years to voluntary service in the community, four hours each week, as recommend by the Opportunity Pathway Model. They attend trainings with Rwanda Partner Organization, get certificates and appreciation for their efforts which makes them competitive. After two years, they have the choice to transition out as by this time they have created networks and are linked to work with local authority offices or other NGOs. For those who wish to continue they can transition into new roles of the program such as a volunteer coordinator or become a volunteer for a different project component. 

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