Rwanda Spends Rwf50 Billion in Fight Against Childhood Stunting

(file photo).
9 December 2020

The Government's commitment to eradicate malnutrition has seen it triple the funding that it injects into the process, rising from Rwf18 to Rwf56bn between 2015 and 2018, members of both chambers of parliament heard on Tuesday.

This was revealed by the Director General of the National Child Development Agency, Dr Anita Asiimwe at the ongoing high-level workshop aimed at strengthening the capacity of parliamentarians to review and track national resources allocated to programmes fighting malnutrition among children and women.

According to the latest Demographic and Health Survey released last week by National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, the percentage of stunted children under the age of five dropped from 38 per cent to 33 per cent in the last five years.

Asiimwe told the parliamentarians that the biggest chunk of this money goes to nutrition-sensitive spending which consists of direct interventions.

The interventions include provision of safe drinking water, food security, immunisation, the provision of milk to school children, school feeding initiatives, and the Girinka program among others.

Multi-sectoral approach

Even with its political will, Asiimwe said that the Government will need support from different sectors and development partners to ensure that the issue of stunting is reduced from the current 33 percent to the projected 19 percent in 2024.

"We can approach this from different angles but since there is already political will, we can go ahead and provide our communities with information on proper nutrition and emphasise to our communities that fully understand the long term advantages of giving both the mother and child proper nutrition," she said.

She reminded the MPs that proper feeding means the number of times a child is fed and the contents of that meal.

"The solution to this issue can be found in the information that a parent has regarding proper nutrition and the time she or he spends on their children. There is also a challenge where parents are not fully conversant with the idea of a balanced diet," she said.

UNICEF's Country Representative Julianna Lindsey agrees.

She says that malnutrition is a broad issue that can be caused by anything from lack of information on healthy eating practices, low income and lack of access to clean water and sanitation where the children get diarrhoea and the healthy nutrients are flushed out among others

"Combined efforts among various ministries and NGOs can go a long way in supporting families to understand the value of kitchen gardens, savings associations, and also working with proximity advisers within the district administrations to provide coordinated information about health care, clean water, proper feeding and savings among others can be helpful," she said.

Last week, at the ceremony to officially release the findings of the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey, the Minister of Health Dr. Daniel Ngamije said that 1 per cent of children were wasted in 2020 compared to 2 per cent in 2015.

Wasting is a measure of acute under-nutrition, which may result from inadequate food intake or from a recent episode of illness-causing weight loss, according to health experts.

The rate of underweight children (too-thin for their age) reduced slightly from 9 per cent to 8 per cent in the same period.

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