23 March 2016

Rwanda: Malnutrition in Children Down 14 Percent, Says Minister

Photo: UN Photo/Albert González Farran
(file photo)

Malnutrition rate in children dropped from 52 per cent in 2015 to 38 per cent presently.

Dr Geraldine Mukeshimana, the Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, said the drop is a result of several initiatives set out by the government to fight malnutrition and hunger.

The minister was briefing journalists in Kigali, yesterday, about the Compact2025 initiative that is aimed at eradicating hunger and malnutrition by 2025.

"The government has put more efforts in fighting hunger and malnutrition. This was done by setting up various initiatives like the 'One Cow Per Poor Family' programme, One Cup of Milk per Child per day, school feeding programme and establishment of the national grain strategic reserve to ensure we have intervention in case of drought or any other calamity," Mukeshimana said.

"For further measures to tackle the issue of malnutrition, we are currently focusing on education of women and their empowerment on decision making on family fund use as a study we conducted recently revealed that malnutrition was less among children born to educated women than those born to non-educated women."

Rwanda has recently made significant gains in reducing hunger and under-nutrition as well as in addressing some of the underlying issues that hold back progress.

Boosting agricultural productivity and improving food security is a priority under Vision 2020, which includes child nutrition as a key indicator.

Further, food security and nutrition are considered key issues in growth blueprint, the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II).

However, Mukeshimana said they expect to gain more from other countries in a Compact2025 meeting that will take place tomorrow to help accelerate efforts to stamp out malnutrition and hunger by 2025.

Launched in November, last year, Compact2025 is a bold initiative for ending hunger and malnutrition by 2025.

It brings stakeholders together to set priorities, innovate and learn, fine-tune actions, build on successes, and synthesise sharable lessons in order to accelerate progress.

It is managed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) with a leadership council at country level.

According to the 2015 household survey conducted by the national institute of statistics, 38 per cent of children in Rwanda were found stunted.

In the region, Rwanda lags behind Uganda and Kenya, which have 33.4 per cent and 26 per cent of stunted children, respectively. Tanzania has 42 per cent, while Burundi has 57.7 per cent of stunted children in the first a thousand days.

Rwanda passed almost all the MDGs but one of the unmet targets was the reduction of stunting, according to officials.

Experts say when a child is stunted, especially in the first a thousand days of their lives, it affects their life later on.

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