22 February 2013

Rwanda: Govt Targets More Children for School Milk Feeding Project

The government is working towards ensuring that the One-Cup-Of-Milk-Per-Child programme, benefits more pupils. The programme aims at fighting malnutrition among children in schools and currently benefits 74,728 pupils, according to Francis Musinguzi, the head of the programme under the Rwanda Agriculture Board.

Every pupil is allocated about Rwf28,800 per year. The budget for the programme this fiscal year is Rwf1.5 billion. Each pupil takes approximately 36 litres of milk a year and each litre costs Rwf800.

"About 100 primary schools are beneficiaries but for this year, we plan to have atleast another 65 schools added onto the list," Musinguzi told The New Times.

These new additions will be drawn from the districts of Nyamasheke, Ngoma and Ngororero.

Even though the programme has reduced malnutrition, Musinguzi said they will continue targeting schools in rural areas where malnutrition is a threat.

The programme started in 2010 in Bugesera, Kamonyi, Nyanza and Karongi districts. Pupils in schools where the programme is operational have a chance to take half a litre of milk twice a week supplied by Savannah Diary in Nyagatare and Inyange Industries.

Concerns, however, have been raised about the cost incurred to transport the milk to remote areas, something said to be hampering the expansion of the project.

But RAB officials arue that despite the distance, it is healthier to get milk from factories than in the villages.

Musinguzi says that the biggest challenge is the rainy season where trucks cannot easily move into the villages where the schools are located.

He particularly pointed out schools in Nyamagabe and Huye districts that are not easily accessible.

Louis Rwagaju, the Mayor, Bugesera, said the initiative has helped improve the well being of children and also in fighting malnutrition. Five schools in Bugesera district have benefited from the programme.

Meanwhile, sources in the Ministry of Agriculture say that plans are underway to have this programme combined with the One Cow per family' programme, commonly known as 'Girinka'.

This is also another programme that was introduced in 2008 with the aim of giving the most vulnerable family a cow to help eradicate poverty.

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