A new project worth Rwf4 billion has been launched in Nyabihu District as part of broad efforts to eliminate malnutrition among children under 5 years and nursing mothers.
Dubbed 'Embrace', the four-year project is backed by Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA)-Rwanda.
It will be implemented in four sectors that are among the most affected by malnutrition in the district, namely; Karago, Jenda, Bigogwe and Kintobo.
Nyabihu is one of the country's top producers of Irish potatoes. Yet, it's one of the districts with the highest rates of malnutrition in the country, a phenomenon that's largely blamed on lack of knowledge on healthy feeding.
The 2015 Demographic Health Survey (DHS) showed that Nyabihu has the highest rate of preventable stunting in children under five years.
Nyabihu recorded 59 per cent stunting rate, far above the national average of 38 per cent.
The new project is therefore expected to significantly reduce preventable stunting and maternal-child mortality, officials said.
Speaking at the launch in Kigali on Tuesday, Alphonse Munyantwari, the Governor of Western Province, said the scale of stunting in the district should not be interpreted to mean that the district lacks food that's rich in nutrients, calling on the development partners to focus on changing the community's mindset.
"It is a matter of mindset and ignorance on nutritious feeding. I hope this project will help us fight stunting among children to ensure they do not face growth complications," he said.
As part of the project work, ADRA-Rwanda donated 150 cows to vulnerable families in the district.
It is projected that some 300 more cows will be distributed to households in the beneficiary sectors in the course of the project activities.
Up to 7, 010 households have been identified as potential beneficiaries.
Ngaite Nkomo Mgeni, the country director of ADRA-Rwanda, said the project will help develop a healthy community capable of contributing toward the country's development.
"A nation that is not healthy cannot develop, so we have to make sure its people are healthy before thinking about development," she said, adding that they hope to extend the project in other parts of the country.
Reuben Muvunyi, the project coordinator, said since the project started last year (ahead of the official launch), some gains have already been made.
"We hope that, at the end of the day, communities will be in position to tell what they need to eat and to feed children to avoid stunting and other related health complications," he said.
He said of the 1846 malnourished children in Nyabihu, 60 per of them are benefiting from the project.
'Embrace' operates in four countries, namely Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines and Rwanda.