30 October 2017

Rwanda: Officials Call for Investment in Rural Communities to End Hunger

Commercial farming will enhance food security, reduce hunger and malnutrition among children in rural areas, Gerardine Mukeshimana, the Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, has said.

Minister Mukeshimana also said the country cannot reach its targets without development in rural areas.

She made the remarks last week as she joined residents in Karongi District to celebrate the World Food Day, commemorated in Rubengera Sector under the theme 'Investing in food security and rural development.'

"Food security is every citizen's responsibility and I am glad to hear that you know what it takes to achieve it in this area, you only need to put it in action. Invest in agriculture with ambition, and do it professionally while targeting profits, end of hunger and malnutrition," she said.

She urged parents to ensure proper feeding of their children to prevent stunting, which affects mainly children under five years of age.

"It is every parent's responsibility to feed children with a well- balanced diet to protect them from malnutrition and stunting," she added.

Rwanda's food security is reported to be largely affected by climate change, but Mukeshimana said the government, in partnership with development partners, will continue to push and help every affected community towards climate resilience.

"Although we cannot stop disasters from happening in the country, we can at least find sustainable ways to cope with its consequences through different activities to cover the situation," she said.

The World Food Programme (WFP) reports that hunger statistics are on the rise with 815 million people suffering from hunger across the world, in 2017, compared to 777 million people in 2016, an increase largely caused by climate change and economic slowdown.

Jean Pierre de Margerie, the WFP Country Director, said the day presented an opportunity to take measures to prevent or minimise the impact of climate change on national food security.

This, he said could be done by setting a new agricultural transformation strategic plan that can have a big impact in addressing the major gaps in building resilience in nutrition sensitivity and small scale irrigation.

He also urged the need to invest in rural areas which he said are home to a bigger number of people and have great potential for economic development.

According to the Integrated Household Living Condition Survey (EICV) 4, 49.1 per cent of children under five years of age in Karongi are malnourished.

Jonas Ndayisaba, the Director of Health in the District said all responsible authorities have since stood together to fight malnutrition among residents, especially children.

"Given the collaboration we have here in putting efforts to help prevent malnutrition, there is no doubt that the statistics will dramatically decrease. We have confidence that malnutrition will be tackled as long as people are educated on how to ensure a balanced diet," Ndayisaba said.

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