Every day over 25,000 Rwandese cross the border to Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the majority looking to sell Rwandese milk. The trip is not without danger, but for many the juice is worth the squeeze.

Customs between the city of Goma in the DRC and the town of Rubavu in Rwanda on average record daily cross-border traffic of over 25,000 people. There is a lot of commercial activity between the people of both cities. Several articles are transported across the border to be sold: food products, tap water, charcoal, firewood... But one thing is more popular than all the others: dairy.

In 2006, the “one-cow-per-poor-family” program was introduced in Rwanda. Since this date, no less than 200.000 cows have been distributed to vulnerable families. The program has been a success in the field of dairy production. Milk production increased spectacularly and it is expected that by 2017, it will have grown even more.

Although development specialists are often not keen on the approach of giving people goods, this program actually proves the results can be surprising. Rwandan journalist Pascal Niyonsaba and Flemish Ellen Debackere investigated the impact of the development program and the effects on Rwando-Congolese dairy border trade.

This project was funded through Journalismfund.eu's Flanders Connects Continents grant programme.

Photo © Gwendolyn Stansbury

Team members

Ellen Debackere

Ellen Debackere (1989) is a Belgian historian.

Ellen Debackere

Pascal Niyonsaba

Pascal Niyonsaba (1969) works as a freelancer, writing for, among others, Capeco Africa. (Rwanda)

grant of €3.000 allocated on 29 April 2016

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