Rwanda: Igikoni Cy'umudugudu - How Collective Cooking Helps Mothers Fight Malnutrition Among Children

It's a cloudy Friday morning in Kamuvunyi village, Nemba Sector, Gakenke district where more than 50 mothers have converged in one place to collectively prepare a meal for their children under the age of 5.

Food items of various types - Irish potatoes, beans, eggs, fruits, vegetables, among others are available, contributed by the ladies from their homes.

The children are playing under the supervision of their parents as they wait for the meal to get ready.

Soon, breakfast is ready to be served - nutritious porridge, after which the mothers start to prepare lunch - a balanced diet that has vegetables, potatoes, silverfish, and eggs accompanied with some fruits.

Through Igikoni cy'umudugudu initiative . Parents bring together their children during this activity that happens twice a month in different parts of Rwanda. Craish Bahizi

This is the "Igikoni cy'umudugudu," an activity that happens twice a month in different parts of Rwanda. Its aim is to teach women about the importance of proper nutrition for children.

"When we gather here, we not only prepare food for the children, but we do other important activities, for example, measuring their height and weight to assess the progress of their physical growth," says Francoise Mukazayire, a mother of one who turned up for the activity.

We learn and encourage each other to always ensure that we prepare a balanced diet for our children, she says, adding that a balanced diet should have vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates.

"We learn such from here," she adds.

Prepetue Niyigena, a first-time mother praises the exercise for the role it played in equipping her with knowledge about how to take care of her child.

"As a first-time mother, I did not know much about how to take care of my child in terms of feeding, for example. However, when I was pregnant, I was advised to attend this exercise from where I learned a lot about breastfeeding, as well as other ways of taking care of my baby," she says.

A Community Health Worker explains to parents how to prepare a balanced diet that has vegetables, potatoes, silverfish, and eggs accompanied with some fruits.

The activity is always attended by Community Health Workers (CHWs) who tip the mothers on proper nutrition.

"We tell them that a balanced diet is made up of three parts: vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates can be obtained from foods like potatoes and maize flour, proteins can be obtained from animal products like milk, eggs, silverfish, while vitamins come from fruits like tree tomatoes, passion fruits and vegetables," says Elizabeth Uwimana, a CHW.

The mothers are also tipped on other good practices for their health and that of their children, for example maintaining hygiene in their daily lives.

Clementine Muhawenimana, another mother attending the Igikoni cy'umudugudu has learnt to not take hygiene for granted, as she notes that "a balanced diet starts with good hygiene."

The level of stunting among children in Gakenke district reduced from 63.9 per cent in 2010 to 39 per cent, according to the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) statistics.

According to Jean Marie Vianney Nizeyimana, the Mayor of the district, more efforts are being invested in sensitizing parents about the importance of nutrition for their children, as a way of continuing to fight stunting.

A Community Health Worker shows different kinds of food items that a young child has to consume for a better health. Craish Bahizi

"Gakenke is a very productive district in terms of agriculture, therefore, we should not be having high numbers of children affected by stunting. We are putting efforts in sensitising parents about nutrition because I think the key problem is the mindset," he noted.

Among other efforts, the district through CHWs tries to follow up on families to make sure that they are properly using the nutritional resources provided to them by the local government authorities, for example, the nutritious "shisha kibondo" porridge flour and milk given to children from vulnerable families.

Food items of various types - Irish potatoes, beans, eggs, fruits, vegetables, among others are available, contributed by the ladies from their homes.

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.

X